The Rummage

Tag: Peru

. issue XVIII : iv .

. artist : various artists .
. album : peru maravilloso: vintage latin, tropical and cumbia .
. year : 2013 .
. label : tiger’s milk .
. grade : b plus .


There’s more to Peruvian music than chicha – that’s one of the messages of this fine debut compilation from Tiger’s Milk Records, an outgrowth of London Peruvian restaurant Ceviche. This is a well-researched look at the Latin and tropical sounds of 60’s and 70’s Peru, with none of the tracks re-released since their original local pressings. A good example of their deep digging is the first track, “Mambo de Machaguay,” which sounds like a standard swank 60’s big band mambo but also incorporates a traditional Andean rhythm. “Salsa 73” is a descarga (jam session), a popular style among Peruvian Latin combos of the era; “Piraña” is a Cuban son montuno crossed with the ever-popular cumbia rhythm. And they didn’t leave chicha out of the mix entirely: “La Cumbia Del Pacurro” is a beauty by Juaneco Y Su Combo that somehow hadn’t yet been reissued, “Me Siento Felíz” is the Beatles’ “I Feel Fine” as a psychedelic cumbia instrumental, and “Los Fabulosos en Onda” is a new one on me, some sort of chicha power ballad (an instrumental once again) with a Santana-like guitar lead. Nice job, gentlemen.

by Bill Lupoletti


. issue XVI : iv .

. artist : los jharis de nana .
. album : los creadores del sonido de la carretera .


. and .

. artist : sensacion shipibo .
. album : 7” .


. year : 2012 .
. label : masstropicas .
. grade : b plus .

The ultra-indie, vinyl-only Masstropicas label is back from Peru with another find. Los Jharis De Nana, led by guitarist Teo Laura, started playing in the mid-1970’s; they have a twangy, swirly sound (lots of echo, fuzzbox, flanger, etc.) that is the essence of what is now known worldwide as chicha or psychedelic cumbia. This recording was originally released (on cassette, naturally) in the mid-80’s; apparently the band is still active today. A ride-along with the Los Jharis LP is a new single from a band called Sensacion Shipibo. They’re from the Peruvian selva (rain forest) region, and Masstropicas recorded them on site in Yarinacocha. They call their style cumbia-masha and sing in both Spanish and the local Shipibo language (which sounds oddly to my ear like Japanese, especially on “Reshin Noma” — maybe it’s a tonal or pitch-accented language?). Although the band’s creative process involves the use of ayahuasca (a naturally-occurring psychotropic drug), their sound, flavored with accordion and syndrums, is decidedly less psychedelic sounding to American ears than bands like Los Jharis. This two-for-one release set is another quality addition to the chicha catalogue from a very intrepid record label.

by Bill Lupoletti

. issue XVI : iii .

. artist : teo laura .
. album : el sonido de la carretera central .
. year : 2013 .
. label : masstropicas .
. grade : a minus .


Masstropicas’ excavation of Peruvian chicha continues apace with this fine compilation of bands that all featured the guitarist Teo Laura Amao, who’s still active today. Laura is one of the leading exponents of the style called Carretera Central (“Central Highway”). (The name refers to Peru’s major east-west highway PE-22, connecting Lima to the high Andes and the selva, the Amazonian rainforest, beyond it.) Laura is from Ñaña, about 20 kilometers from Peru along PE-22, and his twangy playing fits somewhere in between the deeply psychedelic cumbia Amazonica of groups like Juaneco Y Su Combo and the more worldly sound of Lima-based groups like Los Destellos. The highlights here are seven tracks by pioneering Carretera Central combo Los Sanders, in which Laura replaced founding guitarist Lener Muñoz. “El Sha La La,” “Reyna De Mi Corazon,” and “Caminando De La Mano” give you a good example of the breadth of the Los Sanders sound. “El Rey Loco” is a swinging instrumental by Los Blue Kings, another early Ñaña combo, and “El Borrachito Peruano” is something a little different – an accordion-driven song that starts out almost like Colombian vallenato. More great finds here from Masstropicas – keep ‘em coming, Mike.

by Bill Lupoletti

. issue XVI : ii .

. artist : various artists .
. album : el sonido de tupac amaru .
. year : 2011 .
. label : masstropicas .
. grade : a .


Barbes Records’ two The Roots Of Chicha compilations and Vampisoul’s Cumbia Beat set have introduced thousands of listeners to the pleasures of Peruvian psychedelic cumbia. They’ve also opened the floodgates for chicha reissues — it turns out that there were dozens if not hundreds of cool bands playing this style in the 60’s and 70’s in urban and rural Peru. Exhibit A is this reissue from Masstropicas, a record label that’s the outgrowth of a pioneering chicha blog. There are 14 songs here (divided between an LP and a 7-incher), only one of the artists is on any of the pioneering Barbes and Vampisoul compilations (the ubiquitous Los Destellos), and everything on here is every bit as interesting. I recommend “Mi Enamorada,” “Cariño Cariñito,” “Tu Primer Amor,” “El Preso,” and “Rico Vacilon,” but really you could simply play any of them. The bonus 7-incher includes four songs by four different bands fronted by singer Carlos Ramirez Centeno, “el patron de la cumbia.” Mike at Masstropicas promises me that he has more good stuff still to come, so the chicha revival still has legs. Get on board now.

by Bill Lupoletti

. issue XVI : i .

. artist : various artists .
. album : the roots of chicha 2: psychedelic cumbias from peru .
. year : 2010 .
. label : barbes .
. grade : a plus .


The first volume of The Roots Of Chicha was one of the surprise hits of 2007, exposing an unsuspecting public to the peculiar blend of cumbia, twangy guitars and psychotropic drugs that fueled this Peruvian style. This second volume casts a broader net – where volume one focused primarily on rural Andean bands, this edition is more urban, more Cuban, less psychedelic, maybe a bit mellower, and provides a more well-rounded view of a genre that has remained popular since the 70’s in Peru’s slums but has barely been acknowledged in upper-class Peruvian culture. Compiler Olivier Conan (who leads the revival band Chicha Libre) has put together another superb selection here – kudos to him for more or less singlehandedly bringing this great musical style to the attention of American and European listeners.

by Bill Lupoletti