Rare 70s Cumbia Latin Psychedelic Rock Salsa Peruvian Music. (re-up includes new 320kb rip with better sound)

“Wait it minute… Your telling me “calle” Tupac Amaru in district of Comas, Lima, is where all it started?” --Renz De Madrugada on Mike P

With this compilation Masstropicas presents the next installment in their quest to bring you the very finest in Peruvian cumbia. El Sonido de Tupac Amaru starts with the slow coastal pulse of Grupo Naranja, while the Amazonian sound of Iquitos Los Silvers Sueño Amazonico has a smooth and soothing groove that will aurally transport you down the Amazon River in a canoe. Seven out of the ten tracks here feature vocals, such as the legendary voices of Chacal, Pancho Lema, Martin Lopez, and Claudio Moran. The three instrumentals featured here are sure to please fans of previous guitar-driven compilations. First comes Pucallpa s Septima Region; their song De la Selva Con Furor starts off with some nasty drumming before drawing you into into a psychedelic guitar sprawl that makes you wonder, Why weren't these guys ever compiled before? Get it before they are all gone.

I would never have believed it if six years ago somebody told me that Peruvian psychedelic cumbia, also known as chicha, would become somewhat hip amongst white people in the northern hemisphere, and that luxurious vinyl reissues would be pressed in Europe and the US, giving this obscure type of music the kind of exposure it never got in its own time.

But that’s exactly what has happened and now we have not one but three record labels competing to release for the first time outside Peru many of these songs, recorded three or four decades ago by artists who were even forgotten back in their hometowns… and gringos love it!

After Barbés (out of New York) and Vampi Soul (out of Spain) covered pretty much all the classics and standards of the genre in their respective compilations, Masstropicas (based in Massachusetts) entered the chicha race with the intention of exploring the lesser known players who contributed to the development of this genre. Last year they did a great job with Ranil’s Jungle Party, a restrospective of pioneer chicha composer Ranil’s career. Now Masstropicas drops their most ambitious project to date, a compilation LP with a 7” EP companion, to be released together on May 10th.

El Sonido de Tupac Amaru includes only one track by Los Destellos, one of the biggest names in chicha history (if not the biggest) and the rest are mostly obscure bands with strange culinary names like La Mermelada (“the marmalade”), Grupo Naranja (“orange group”) and Grupo Guinda (“cherry group”) and other names even less witty (but retroactively hilarious) like Grupo Fiesta (party group)!

True, these guys were not particularly clever when coming up with band names. Keep in mind most of them were from extremely poor and undereducated backgrounds, living in small towns far away from Lima’s urban center. And that’s also reflected in their lyrics. Fortunately, there’s a huge amount of instrumental-only chicha where the focus is on the surf guitar and percussion, but those are mostly from the late ’60s and early ’70s era and were vastly covered by Barbés and Vampi Soul comps already. El Sonido de Tupac Amaru instead focuses on a trend that became dominant in the late ’70s and early ’80s when chicha started to incorporate pop-format corny love songs (the word “cariño” is the most recurrent in this compilation’s list of titles) and that’s exactly the style of cumbia that permeated into neighbour Argentina during the following decade and ended up becoming massive.

Still, there are some some great up-beat dance tunes in here and a handful of impeccable percussion breaks that tropical funk DJ’s won’t wanna miss: “Sueño Amazónico” by Los Silvers and “De La Selva con Furor” by Séptima Región. As a DJ myself I would’ve like to have these tracks on the 7” companion EP but instead it all revolves around the career of another unsung hero of chicha called Carlos Centeno, a vocalist known mainly for the classic “La Colegiala,” but here we have him doing some lesser known songs.

The album comes with complete liner notes and plenty of memorable pictures on the insert, making it a must have collectible for any cumbia fan or retro-Latin digger. -Juan Data


As some label’s have pointed out in past years Peru has proven to be a hotbed of musical treats that have given our ears plenty of amazing grooves. Among them, Peruvian cumbia or chicha (as it might mistakenly be generalized) is a musical genre that still remains largely uncharted world that still holds many surprises up it’s sleeve. Thankfully Mike P of MassTropicas is out to shed some light on the matter one release at a time.

The label’s latest release, El Sonido de Tupac Amaru, realizes months of travels and research collecting the diverse sounds of Comas, a northern working class neighborhood in Lima. Scouring  local radio stations for interesting sounds and from this own digs he’s compiled a collection artists and songs that encapsulate the eclectic sounds that resonate day and night along Avenida Tupac Amaru. The comp brings together a really tasty mix of vocal tracks, check out the the great opener by Grupo Naranja below, plus a handfull of instrumentals including probably one my favorites off the comp by La Septima Region a real percussive cooker with a some great guitar work as the track’s title appropriately labels it “De la Selva con Furor! (From the Jungle with Might)

Tell us about Masstropicas. What inspired you to start the label?

Masstropicas is a collective of sorts not only do I come up with ideas for releases but I also present them to the bands with a collaborative attitude in hopes that they will be receptive. I was inspired to start Masstropicas because no one in North America was releasing Peruvian cumbia and I thought these re-issue’s deserve more than a CD and iTunes.

We reviewed the Ranil’s Jungle Party record, which is fantastic and got a lot of play in the LITA offices (it also made our top reissues of 2010 list). Was that the label’s first release?

No that was actually Masstropicas 4th release, the 3 that came before that were all pressed in very small quantities. Number one being a 45 by LOS CHAPILLACS from Arequipa, Peru. Number 2 being a 12″ from GREEN MANSIONS ( a band between a friend from Denmark and me) and number 3 being a cassette from EL HOMBRE ORQUESTA an amazing street musician from Lima, Peru who performs many cumbia songs and also does some salsa.

Both Ranil’s Jungle Party and El Sonido De Tupac Amaru are prime examples of Peruvian cumbia. Can you talk a bit about this style of music?

Peruvian cumbia much like Peruvian food is a true mix of styles ranging from Asian influence to indigenous Andean influence to American surf rock influence. You’ll find records in Peru that have styles printed next to the song titles, one will say cumbia-rock another will say cumbia-beat and another one will say cumbia-hyuano. It’s always been all over the place but it’s all cumbia Peruana and people outside of Peru who try to pinpoint it always seem to not have the best description.

Tell us about the El Sonido De Tupac Amaru compilation. How did you find these songs/artists?

All of these songs come from my travels in Peru at one point or another. Half of the songs are from 45s I dug down there and songs I heard through a radio station close to my wife’s family’s home called Radio Comas. I would tune in late at night and record radio shows that played cumbia and skim threw the tapes and if I heard something groovy I would ask around and play the song for people in hopes that I could get the name of the group. The compilation is also named after Tupac Amaru which is an avenue also close to where my wife’s family live and you can hear a lot of this music blaring from taxi’s, restaurants, and street vendors there.

Tell us about the re-mastering process. What was the source material that you had to work with? Vinyl? Master tapes? Who did the re-mastering/restoration?

95% of the source material is from vinyl and 5% being from master tapes. Unfortunately only a few labels kept master tapes in Peru and it’s very hard to come across smaller labels who do own master tapes. So we relied on the cleanest copies of the records that I own and trying to mix the sound with the songs on the compilation that come from the master tapes was quite a dilemma for Pepito Perez and Anres Tapia, the two guys who mastered El Sonido De Tupac Amaru along with Ranil’s Jungle Party.

A1 Grupo Naranja - Duice Cariñito 3:23
A2 Septima Region - De La Selva Con Furor 2:56
A3 Grupo Maravilla - Promesas 3:26
A4 Grupo Guinda - Mi Enamorada 3:17
A5 Chacal y sus Estrellas - La Danza Del Chacal 2:45
B1 Los Destellos - Dame Tu Cariño 3:24
B2 Grupo Fiesta - Cariño Cariñito 5:26
B3 Los Silvers - Sueño Amazónico 3:01
B4 La Mermelada - Tu Primer Amor 3:09
B5 Grupo Naranja - El Preso 3:03