mon 15/07/2024

Music Reissues Weekly: Perú Selvático - Sonic Expedition into the Peruvian Amazon 1972-1986 | reviews, news & interviews

Music Reissues Weekly: Perú Selvático - Sonic Expedition into the Peruvian Amazon 1972-1986

Music Reissues Weekly: Perú Selvático - Sonic Expedition into the Peruvian Amazon 1972-1986

Salute to Perú’s cumbia-influenced regional grooves

Los Invasores de Progreso - amongst the stars collected on 'Perú Selvático'Analog Africa

"Descarga Royal" by Los Royal’s de Pucallpa opens proceedings. After flurries of wobbly wah-wah guitar, a driving percussion bed interweaves with a rolling guitar figure. Then, about two minutes in, the guitarist steps on the fuzz pedal. Groovy. Psychedelic too. The band’s name is taken from the tropical east-Perú city of Pucallpa, located on the Amazon tributary river Ucayali.

Further in, "Humo En La Selva" by Los Invasores De Progreso is as groovy and also features fuzz guitar along with vocal chants. Progreso is located in inland south-western Perú along the Apurímac, another Amazon tributary.

Perú Selvático - Sonic Expedition into the Peruvian Amazon 1972-1986Perú Selvático - Sonic Expedition into the Peruvian Amazon 1972-1986 digs into the music of inland Peru, away from capital city Lima. The 18 tracks collected are influenced by Colombia’s cumbia music, heard on radio in these regions. North of and bordering Perú, Colombia generated a dance music which rippled through Latin America.

What’s heard was originally issued by two Lima-based labels: Universal Producciones Fonograficas EIRL and Discos Volcán. The latter was founded in 1970 by Antonio Gutierrez Cateriano, who had grown up in the Perú’s mountainous south. Discos Universal opened for business in January 1981 and was run by Sebastian Silva Obregon, from the equally mountainous north. Both entrepreneurs knew there was music being made – and a desire for music – beyond Perú’s coastal centres.

Sonido Verde de Moyobamba LPAccording to the liner notes of Perú Selvático’s booklet, “In some cases the companies paid for flights and expenses for the whole group to come to Lima to record; sometimes they flew in only certain members of the group and filled in the gaps with studio musicians; in certain cases the group had to cover all their travel expenses or work out a deal with the labels to split the costs of getting to the capital.” (pictured left, a Sonido Verde de Moyobamba LP sampled by Perú Selvático)

And, “many labels, when dealing with Amazonian groups, would write up a contract for a minimal sum of money; some groups would receive nothing apart from copies of their own records to sell back home. Royalties based on sales were the exception rather than the rule. By promising to distribute and promote the records, the labels could offer contracts that worked to their advantage, as most groups were content with the idea of releasing a record for the first time. The local studio musicians in Lima, however, were always compensated for their sessions.”

Grupo Siglo XX De Rioja LPAs an exploitative business model, it certainly tips the balance in favour of the capital city’s music biz players. Even so, this is how it was and the ten bands heard were probably happy with it – they got records out which they could sell at live shows and use to try for radio play. Presumably, the labels decided on the curious cover images for the albums. (pictured right, a Grupo Siglo XX De Rioja LP sampled by Perú Selvático)

The story is gone into thoroughly in the booklet – though, frustratingly, the specific original release details and their dates are not given – and the picture painted is of regionally thriving music scenes which were drawn to Lima as they had no other means to make records. If these albums had not been issued, there would have been barely any trace of Los Cisnes, Fresa Juvenil De Tarapoto, Grupo Siglo XX De Rioja, Ranil y Su Conjunto Tropical and so on.

Obviously, Perú Selvático - Sonic Expedition into the Peruvian Amazon 1972-1986 represents a cherry picking; the tracks selected fit a particular sensibility, a snapshot designed to pique current listener’s ears – bringing a consistency supplied by the compiler. Nonetheless, the result of imposing this sonic coherence on an aspect of Perú’s regional music has resulted in a delightful compilation which won’t disappoint.


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