22 Nov 2015

Cumbias Chichadélicas - Peruvian Psychedelic Chicha

By Todd Leiter-Weintraub (Hop On Pop)

Originating in the coastal region of Columbia, Cumbia music spread across the South American continent, and even up into Mexico, mutating and changing with each mile. It’s a music that was made for dancing… with a brisk 2/4 time signature all but forcing the listener to move. And, sometime in the late 60s in Peru, Cumbia mutated into Chicha: the psychedelic cousin of Cumbia that can be heard in this collection.

Although not overtly psychedelic, Peruvian Chica can change your headspace very quickly. It’s all rock instrumentation, with a strong emphasis on guitars, and the occasional waves of echo and wah-wah giving the music its psych flavor.

Sure, we do hear the occasional horn section like you might expect to hear in some Mexican mariachi bands, or some wood block percussion, or even some slithery tango rhythms. But, even when making its deepest ingresses into more-traditional South American sounds, the music stays psychedelic. Just listen to the heavily processed lead banjo on “Mi Morena Rebekde” by Eusebio y Su Banjo for a perfect example of a how the two traditions meld into one; it brings to the music a sound that is simultaneously of both traditions, and of neither.

If you are one who is turned off by foreign-language singing, there is a little bit of that here, for sure. And you should know that. However, the collection is primarily instrumental. And, with the recordings re-mastered from the original tapes, the instruments all sound great: guitars leap out, percussion pops, and the stereo separation makes for excellent headphone listening.

While, sadly, this reviewer was not able to get his hands on an actual physical copy of the deluxe vinyl reissue*, I do have access to PDF versions of the liner notes and packaging, and I can state with certainty that there is a wealth of information to read, and many gorgeous photographs and artwork to behold within the double LP gatefold package.

It’s a bounty of both great music, and of great history. Dig in!

Available here (UK) and here (US).

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