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Top 10 World Music CDs

Various Artists
February , 2008

By Tom Pryor

The Roots Of Chicha: Psychedelic Cumbias Of Peru
Barbès Records

Backpackers who’ve trekked the mountainous country of Peru can tell you about chicha—the powerful moonshine made from fermented corn that has derailed many a traveler’s itinerary. But musical archivist Olivier Conan—the impresario behind Brooklyn’s Barbès Records (and the music lounge for which it’s named)—brought back a different kind of chicha when he returned from the land of the Incas. Back in the freewheeling ’70s, the boomtowns of the Peruvian Amazon rocked to a hypnotic, loping new sound also called chicha, which fused the syncopated rhythm of Colombian cumbia with swirling psychedelic organs and twangy surf guitars. Conan, who also plays in the chicha-inspired band Chicha Libre, dug deep into old crates to release the first Stateside collection of this music. This is a revelatory work destined to take place alongside the Ethiopiques and Cambodia Rocks series as a seminal piece of musical archeology.