The first installment in Vampi Soul's Cumbia Beat series is a wonderful mix of “chicha” tracks that trace the history of Peruvian cumbia by focusing on key bands and influential players. This Peruvian cumbia, also known as "chicha", was a blend of popular tropical genres such as merengue, guaracha, rumba and cumbia mixed with 60's beat and psychedelic rock. A perfect storm of folk melodies and traditions from the Andes and Amazonian jungle reinterpreted through electric instruments, representing the shift from rural areas to the capital, Lima, and other big cities in Peru. As noted in the earlier offered (and now available again) Cumbia Beat Volume 2, the style is "typified by playful, bouncy guitars, simple but charming riffs, and tropicalizations of ballads and certain rock classics". Delving into the roots of Peruvian Cumbia, Vampi Soul collects 23 prime tracks of experimental guitar-based tropical sounds recorded between 1966-1976. The worldwide interest in Peruvian cumbia has steadily grown over the past decade, from compilations such as these providing a broad overview to rarer, full LP's being finally reissued for full-tropical-effect (ie: check out some of the Los Destellos reissues from Cal Comunicaciones/Discos Eternos). The music on all three volumes of Cumbia Beat are an addicting cocktail of Caribbean percussion and Andean pentatonics mixed with synths, wah-wahs, fuzztones, and more. It's a concoction that will have you moving and grooving, to either welcome the warm weather or to stave off the cold. While each track on this comp is special, particularly choice cuts include: the western-theme-tinged "Lobos Al Escape" by Los Orientales De Paramonga; "Pasion Oriental" by Los Destellos, "El Escape" by Los Mirlos; "Lamento de Un Galax" by Los Galax (which has some of the most unexpectedly "out-there" guitar flourishes I've heard in chicha;) and the super funky "El Trencito" by Los Atomos De Paramonga. It's an astonishing and bewitching sound that seems to drink from all the mysteries of the jungle. Vol 1, 2, and 3 are not to be missed. Released by Vampi Soul.
- 2LP with innersleeve liner notes
- credit printout with replica artwork
- music label: Vampi Soul 2019
reviewed by Richard Cashmere 4/2019