miércoles, 18 de abril de 2012

Chicha (Libre) rides again, Carolina Amoruso

Chicha (Libre) rides again

By Carolina Amoruso

If the vintage chicha of Juaneco, los Destellos, et al., makes me
smile, and Sonido Amazonica, by johnny-come-latelys Chicha Libre,
gets me chuckling, then Canibalismo (Barbès Records), Libre’s latest
offering, brings me to carcajadas.

Chicha Libre is on a mission to spearhead a revival of Peru’s first
homegrown pop genre and to take and keep it on the road. Libre
is, in fact, a gaggle of guys with elected affinities--i.e., an embrace
of chicha (the music) and old hat/new-fangled electronica—though
not one of them is Peruvian. The lineup comprises a venezolano,
a mexicano, two franceses and 2 norte americanos. They came
together at Barbès, a Brooklyn world music club, and pledged to
make happy, wacky, rootsy music in a high-tech, low-tech way.

The brew that Peruvian folk came to love as chicha in the late ‘60s
and onward imported much of its sound: from Colombia’s cumbia;
from Afro-Cuba’s primal and percussive rhythms; from Dick Dale’s,
the Ventures’, Santo and Johnny’s and others’ surfing guitar sounds,
and from the outposts of UK and US rock ‘n roll. Chicha Libre’s jump-
off point was cumbia amazonica, cumbia psicodelica --or however
chicha in its trippy boom years of the late ‘70s and ‘80s was tagged-
- and Sonido Amazonico (2008) was a fine facsimile of the real thing,
if a little timid. Now, with Canibalismo, Libre is riffing on their own
riff. The sound is more maturely sculpted and the further departures
from script they’ve run with, especially in genre, have not jeopardized
their currency in a chicha revival, but promise to win them creds in a
broader world music setting, too.

With cumbia still bedrocking most of the tunes, Canibalismo fuses the
farflung elements of tripped out electronics, sinuous Middle Eastern
minor key measures, hip-propelling backup Congolese guitars, even
stolen moments from 70’s West African “rumba” bands, into a picnic
of sound.

Muchachita del oriente greets us with a fanfare on the drum kit; this
opens into a perky clave the provenance of which can only be el

oriente de Cuba; we take a break with a brief electronic whoosh,
and the curtain pulls back for the takeover by the twanging, rubbery
surfer guitar. “Muchachita del oriente…siempre sonriente, tu vienes a
bailar.” But, why not? In fact, Canabalismo in its entirety is eminently

Depresión Tropical has lots going on, all of it fun. The mysterious
melodies of the Kasbah intrude under more wave-riding guitars,
adding some power chords for extreme punctuation. Especially
fetching are the clever changes in dynamic, allowing the bands’
primary sensibilities to compete: electronic (helped by the retro
sound of the Farfisa organ), woozy guitar, the Kasbah, and Latinate

La Danza de Don Lucho is a hip revisiting of the cumbia peruana,
but it doesn’t linger here; Libre’s itchy feet migrate to the lands of
salsa, paying more homage to French West Africa’s love affair with
Fania than to the boricua All-Stars themselves. This is great stuff and
eminently tongue-in-cheek.

For serious music fans, we have the Ride of the Valkyries. Well,
almost. Poor Richard Wagner, he must be turning his Teutonic self
over in the grave as this once proud operatic trademark descends
into cumbia, electronic parodies and unabashed kitch. The
whistle, wah wah, and up-scale/down-scale runs by the organs, the
crescendoing drums, and clipity clop of the cumbia clave make an
amusement park ride of an erstwhile hypercharged call to battle.

Roll over, P.D.Q. Bach, Chicha Libre has come to town.

Canibalismo will be released on 08, May in the US. Latin American
dates vary.

Chances are, Chicha Libre will be coming to a theater near you

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