The Roots of Chicha: Psychedelic Cumbias From Peru - V/A

(Barbés Records, 2007)


"On the edge of the Amazon in the ’60s, a sound emerged that united Peru’s indigenous melodies with Colombia’s highly-danceable cumbia rhythm, surf rock wah-wah pedals, and rock and roll’s organ-playing. These cumbiasamazonicas migrated to Lima and became chicha, the soundtrack of empowerment for the era’s newly urbanized indigenous population. The Roots of Chicha: Psychedelic Cumbias from Peru on Barbès Records features six of the most compelling bands from the scene, before the sound became watered down with pop aesthetics and cheesy synthesizers.

Chicha emerged around the time of Peru’s big oil boom and the associated rural-urban migration (and dislocation) of the time period. This happened to be the same period that guitar effects and compact electric organs became available, and worldwide local styles became electrified. Rural populations moved into the city—similarly to what was happening globally in places like Kingston, Lagos, and Kinshasa—oftentimes living in poor conditions while adopting Western and urban musical elements to create new hybrids. As the music gained popularity, it became a great source of cultural (and even class) pride. In Peru this emerging style assumed the label chicha, the name of a fermented corn drink associated with pre-Columbian indigenous people in the region." - Rock Paper Scissors