Category Archives: 1960’s

Chicha, or Peruvian cumbia

In the late 1960’s, the influence of popular western music mingled with the indigenous musics of the West Amazon to produce Chicha (which is also a corn-based libation), or Peruvian cumbia:

There’s an excellent compilation of this stuff (apparently the first such comp made available outside of Peru) from Barbès Records, streaming on youtube:

Here’s an excerpt from the comp’s Barbès Records description (which seems to offer a pretty comprehensive historical explanation):

The music was so fresh, so exciting, and its appeal so effortlessly universal that it still seems strange that it never managed to find an international audience. The oddly post-modern combination of western psychedelia, Cuban and Colombian rhythms, Andean melodies and idiosyncratic experimentation was close in spirit to the pop syncretism of Brazilian Tropicalia bands such as Os Mutantes.

But unlike Brazilian Tropicalia, Chicha was not an intellectual movement. Its main proponents were working musicians who mostly came from poor backgrounds. Their job was to make people dance. They didn’t travel to London. No discourse was elaborated around the music. It never became popular with the Peruvian middle class. Art students didn’t embrace it. Critics and intellectuals didn’t write about it. As a result, the music was scorned nationally – and largely ignored outside of Peru.

Buy it at http://barbesrecords.com/rootsofchicha.html

And here’s one more: