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Chicha Popular

25/01/2022Rebel Up! Records Releases 2LP Compilation Of Love & Social Political Songs From Peruvian Label Discos Horóscopo (1977-1987)

Rise and shine! And we mean that quite literally. Music has always been akin to uprisings, be it on the dancefloor or on the daily rollercoaster of life. Likewise, "musical revolutions are often born from the people," a point vibrantly brought to fruition on the latest 24 (+2) track compilation by Belgian imprint Rebel Up! Records, in collaboration with iconic Peruvian labels Magnética and Discos Horóscopo. Together, they just released the resplendent "Chicha Popular" various artists album of Peruvian 'chicha' cumbia, or Andean tropical cumbia, a genre which evolved "in the 'barrios bajos' (slums), alleys, hills and the peripheries of Lima on the coast and cities on the edge of the Andes mountains in the late '70s and '80s."

Over five years in the making, "Chicha Popular: Love & Social Political Songs from Discos Horóscopo 1977-1987" brings us a fascinating retrospective of "working class and migrant cumbia" retrieved from the archives of fringe Peruvian label Discos Horóscopo. Founded in Lima by Juan Campos Muñoz, "a businessman, dreamer, and also a lover of music" in a tumultuous decade – where "wild neoliberal policies" and "extreme Maoist 'sendero luminosa' revolts" happened simultaneously – the imprint quickly ventured into Chicha music, "the genre that most emphasized its pride in being proletarian, itinerant, provincial and hardworking," and, between 1977 and 1987, went on to produce "the largest wave of Andean tropical cumbia in the world."

"Brought about by Andean migration from the countryside to the city which gave rise to [diverse interventions into Peruvian culture], adaptations and intercultural mixing [from the mid-1960s onwards]," this "true new Peruvian sound was not played with folk instruments but with guitars, synthesizers and timbales." If, until this point, "Peruvian tropical music [had been] characterized by psychedelic hybridity and instrumentals for mass delight, by the mid-1970s the appearance of a 'class consciousness' and therefore subaltern narrative" allowed Chicha music to emerge from within "a new social class composed mostly of migrants, landless peasants and proletarians without a factory," the release notes read. It may not come as a surprise then, that the word 'chicha' itself refers to an "indigenous Andean alcoholic drink."

This spirited compilation is an unprecedented document from an era of cultural change and filled to the brim with iconic contemporary outfits such as Chacalón y La Nueva Crema, Los Shapis, Pintura Roja, Los Ovnis, Los Orientales de Paramonga, Grupo Alegría and many more, which meanwhile enjoy a cult following in Peru and beyond. "Together [these groups furthered] a unique style with the capacity to talk about both love and uprooting, unemployment, [class struggles], internal violence and impossible [love]." As such, the 2LP compilation presents "iconic songs from that era," thematically arranged to feature love songs on sides A and B and social political songs on sides C and D, but having one thing in common: This is "musica por el pueblo para el pueblo!"

The limited deluxe 2LP edition comes with a 12-page booklet with liner notes and lyrics in both English and Spanish. There is also a bundle including an extra 7" and limited edition t-shirt designed by Ruta Mare available on Bandcamp. To sample the full compilation, simply click the player below. Andale!

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom