Pharaway Sounds 2015
Exotic, yet ultimately rocking, sounds from Peru’s Infopesa label, sought after and corralled for investigation.
Only a few artists from Northern Hemisphere, such as SAILOR, have been able to embrace cumbia but, from the late ’60s on, this Colombian genre was all the rage in Lima and other Peruvian cities who married it to an electric guitar twang. Cue chicha, a new style which didn’t cross the country’s borders and remains a collectors’ domain, a situation this double LP, also available digitally, is set to rectify. Spanning 1968 to 1982, the sixteen mostly instrumental cuts from 11 artists – recorded under the guidance of Alberto Maraví whose Infopesa label took his country into Billboard listings – may sound like period pieces yet they still possess a certain thrill.
There’s arresting romanticism in “Ramo De Rosas” by LOS PAKINES, a delicate and groovy piece hung on echo, whereas EUSEBIO Y SU BANJO’s “Mi Morena Rebelde” shows how chicha pandered to commercial demand by 1981 and, having gained vocal weight, lost its previously distinctive psych buzz – so sensual on the almost baroque “Vírgenes Del Sol” from MANZANITA Y SU CONJUNTO, the earliest number on display. Still, Latin percussion wrapped in surf picking makes LOS ORIENTALES DE PARAMONGA’ “Lobos Al Escape” as sparklingly cinematic as it gets for 1970, while “Cumbia De Los Pajaritos” from LOS MIRLOS is an alloy of “Für Elise” with traditional dance. But it’s LOS RUMBANEY’s “El Poncho” from 1969 that, brass aloft, takes “Apache” closer to home.
It’s exciting when ANICETO Y SUS FABULOSOS’ “Mi Gran Noche” gets punctured with pregnant pauses and lets in exquisite strum – that’s where jungle exotica is pitched – although one can feel the same rush in “Todos Juntos” by LOS INVASORES DE PROGRESO from 1982, as modern guitar effects tried to give a new lease of rock life to the genre in its final throes. Great while it lasted, chicha became an artifact by now – ready for discovery.