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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

Various Artists

By Paul-Emile Comeau
Published January 28, 2008

The Roots of Chicha: Psychedelic Cumbias From Peru

Music fans with a global perspective might want to consider this to be the golden age of reissues. A virtual tidal wave of exciting forms of music from the past—many of them previously unknown outside their region of origin—are being unearthed and made available to a potentially international audience, and The Roots Of Chicha is certainly a contender for the musical find of the year. This impressive set collects music of the ’60s and ’70s made by indigenous groups from the Peruvian Amazon, the more adventurous of whom combined Colombian and Cuban rhythms with Andean melodies while making ample use of experimental sounds that drew from American surf guitars, Moog synthesizers, wah-wah effects, and whatever else came to mind. Los Destellos, one of the six groups featured, even adapted Beethoven’s famous “Für Elise” to the style. This was “poor people’s music” scorned in Peru when it first came out. A recorded legacy that could easily have languished in oblivion, Chicha’s rediscovery is something to celebrate.