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Chica Libre

Kicking off with a statement of intent — a cover of the Los Mirlos track, "Sonido Amazónico" that opened the groundbreaking 2007 Barbés compilation of Peruvian psych-funk Roots of Chicha — Brooklyn-based Chicha Libre make it abundantly clear that they do not intend to break much new ground on their debut album. In the same way that their fellow Brooklynites at Daptone have resurrected classic soul, funk, and Afrobeat sounds that are deeply faithful to the genres' original presentation, the folks at Barbés Records (an offshoot of the multi-culti hipster bar of the same name) seem to intend their label to do the same thing with underground international music. Headed up by Barbés club owner Olivier Conan, Chicha Libre is devoted to holistically recreating the sonic vibe that partygoers in Lima experienced when grooving on the original cuts from Roots of Chicha. Considering the wobbly fidelity and the laid-back musicianship, they succeed quite well; in fact, any of the cuts from Sonido Amazónico could have surreptitiously been slotted into that compilation and nobody would have known the difference. While it's yet to be seen if Chicha Libre will go on to take the same stylistic liberties that a group like Antibalas did with Afrobeat, the good time they're having with what they're doing now makes that question almost beside the point.

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Jason Ferguson

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