Music News

Various Artists

Cumbia isn't the type of music that's typically associated with American funk. Sure, you can do the proverbial watusi to a cumbia any night of the week depending on what nightclub you're in, but there's generally a distinct difference between Andean cumbia music and the funked-out grooves of '60s psychedelic rock. Barbés Records' latest disc, The Roots of Chicha, unearths the master recordings from a group of Amazonian musicians of the late '60s who made a meager living combining indigenous music with Western surf rock, wah-wah pedals, and mind-altering funk overtones. "Ya se ha Muerto mi Abuelo" by Juaneco y Su Combo is the catchiest of the 17 tracks here, with its stellar percussion and organ-backed melodies. Los Hijos del Sol's "Si Me Quieres" and "Linda Muñequita" are similarly hard to shake and sound like they were engineered on Mars. The cowbells and charango playing on those tunes and others, like "Sácalo Sácalo" by Los Diablos Rojos and "Sonida Amazónica" by Los Mirios, will lodge themselves on the left side of your brain, plant seeds, and form tiny cumbia zygotes. When those zygotes hatch into embryos, start dancing, and if a child is born, name it chicha. If none of that makes sense, get your hands on some ayahuasca and it will.

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Jonathan Cunningham