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Sonido Amazonico

4.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 1, 2016
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Editorial Reviews

Chicha is the name of a corn-based liquor the Incas distilled in the days before The Conquest, and the word's mysterious, boozy etymology makes it perfect for the musical style that bears its name. Chicha - the music - was spontaneously distilled during the culture clash of the '60s when the Indian population of the Peruvian Amazon blended Columbian cumbias with American rock & roll, particularly the twang heavy sound of surf music. With cheap electric instruments, Amazon Indians used the syncopated beat of cumbia as the foundation for melodies that sound to western ears like Andean folk music played on electric guitar supported by Tex-Mex style Farfisa. When the Indians moved to Lima, chicha became a thriving subgenre, but since the 70s the style has been dying out. Olivier Conan, owner of New York's Barbés nightclub and record label, discovered the music on a 2005 trip to Peru. In 2007, he put out a compilation called The Roots of Chicha. The music so captivated New York's downtown crowd that he put together Chicha Libre, a combo comprised of New York's musical scene makers, and started playing the old hits, and some new compositions, to packed houses. Part of the charm of the old chicha recordings had to do with their distorted, lo-fi approach, something that you can't match in a Manhattan recording studio. Nonetheless, Sonido Amazonico!, named after a hit by the chicha band Los Mirlos, is a sunny, upbeat collection guaranteed to bring a silly smile to your face. Vincent Douglas' plays a twangy guitar and Josh Camp plays a rare Hohner Electravox, an accordion-like instrument that sounds like a 70s Farfisa, anchor the band's timeless sound (the Electrovox is an electric hybrid; no air passes through it).

Like reggae, the chicha groove is so recognizable, and flexible, that almost any style of music can be played using it. The playing here has a lightness and humor that the originals lacked, but Chicha Libre's not making any claims about being authentic or keeping a lost tradition alive. They're playing it for kicks, and they supply plenty of 'em. ~ j. poet, All Music Guide
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 1, 2016)
  • Original Release Date: April 1, 2016
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: BARBES RECORDS
  • ASIN: B0013D8JL0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #243,366 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Read up on Chicha music. Its sound is inspired from an old Peruvian liquor that may cause hallucinations. The music aspires to treat your senses to a range of sounds and textures. Mission accomplished.

Chicha Libre, a band from NYC is the only Chicha band north of Central America according to the NPR report. I heard some samples of the music on the radio. Based on that I bought the album and will now search out other Chicha bands like a heroin addict looks for his fix. The music is fantastic. Its a mix of Latin and surf rock that is tied so perfectly together it isn't clear when you are surfing in San Diego or in a small village in the Andes. The music rolls along with continuing baselines that give the listener a sense of traveling, movement, or surfing (duh!).

When I listen, I'm surprised this mix hasn't happened more often. I believe Chicha Libre brings out more of the surf rock style than a more traditional band, but I'll have to find out for myself. The sound from Chicha Libre is at different times mellow, exciting, traditional, and innovative. So far I like #12, Popcorn Andino the most. There is an appropriate mix of jam sessions that include key boards and maracas.

Side note: I'm a big fan of Os Mutantes, a psychedelic rock band from Brazil from the 70's. From a historical perspective It is nice to see their music was not created in a vacuum. Chicha music either inspired that style or is influenced by it. Either way, if you liked the Latin music that occasionally drifts off to shoe-gazing, you are well on your way to enjoying Chica Libre.
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This is a great recording. It's full of good dance grooves without catering to the current trends. This group combines elements of Peruvian folk music with rhythms of surf music, slavic folk music, spy movies, Kraftwerk layering, and a fantastic sense of optimism in the stylings. Whenever I put this music on I find myself listening to it for days, whistling along to the catchy melodies and bouncing to the grooves. The modal melodies especially strike a nerve with me. I love this recording.
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I am a later comer to Chicha Libre. I have to admit that I first heard about them on a podcast from NPR's Alt Latino program and then I checked them out on youtube. My favorite tracks on the cd were Indian Summer, Popcorn Andino and Cumbia del Zapatero. If you are looking for music is different (at least here in the USA), you should check out the group.
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I really enjoyed the mix of the 60's surf sounding guitars with the traditional music of S. America. It has a great "pop" sensability to it and is a refreashing breath of fresh air to hear this music. It is very interesting and I recommend you take a listen.
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