Pasión Oriental

destellosCan’t shake this damn chicha bug, buzzing around my brain…

Los Destellos

Los Destellos (the Twinkles) are credited with starting the whole Peruvian Cumbia ball rolling, although ace guitarist Enrique Delgado Montes is actually the man who gave this whole new thing its unique buzz.

The first track (not a real video I’m afraid) is my absolute favourite off the Vampisoul Cumbia Beat compilation I’ve just acquired. It’s a corker, Peruvian surf guitars a-go-go!


Then there’s this clip from the nineties showing a rather cuddly, bespectacled shopkeeper-type tentatively wielding his guitar who surely can’t be the same psych-Chicha fiend?

(Until you see his fingers on the fretboard, that is…)

Messing Around with Ayahuesca




Hold on there! No work for me today! A day of unbridled hedonism awaits. Stand back, it could get messy (but don’t worry, I’ve put out the polythene sheets, Dexter style, no one will ever know…)

Actually I’ve already taken the dog and the boy up to the woods for a run, and listened to the first disk of the fantastic freakbeat comp “Real Life Permanent Dreams”. I’m hoping to get onto listening to the recording I made of Saturday’s British Sea Power gig, but for now it’s all about the Chicha…

Juaneco y Su Combo

Juaneco was in real life Amazonian Juan Wong Pololizio who took over his father’s pick-up band in the sixties, and re-branded them a “combo” in the style of the day. They quickly became the Peruvian Ventures (try Googling that…!), taking locally-sourced toons and frying them up with wah-wah guitars and farfisa organ sounds. At first listen they’re a little cheesy, but at the time I’d guess they were pretty wild and new to the South American public.juaneco-coleccion%2Bde%2Boro

I gather where Juaneco and his Combo were doing something a bit different is in the way they took what would’ve been brass riffs and translating them into Noe Fachin’s spiky and intelligent guitar sound, and Juaneco’s own meandering, reedy organ. Fachin was known locally as “The Witch Doctor” because of his wild lifestyle and enthusiastic consumption of local psychedelic, ayahuasca.

Tragically, five members of the band, including the Witch Doctor himself, died in a classic rock and roll plan crash in 1976, leaving Juaneco to recruit a new band and plough on. (See here for a proper history…)

I can find no videos of the band online, (although there are a few of latter day Juaneco y Su Combo line-ups, now led by Juaneco’s son), so I’ll go with these two clips, the first of which, Me Robaron Mi Runamula, intersperses photos of the Combo with various Peruvian ladies in exotic costumes. (Lovers of Calexico will certainly recognise a few reference points, here…):


The second clip, their best known tune, Vacilando con Ayahuesca, is a slower, more sinister version than the one on the Barbes Records’ collection, Masters of Chicha, I got from Emusic (which I can heartily recommend, btw):

Return of the Cumbia


We’ve just come back from a very pleasant couple of days motoring around mid Wales, plodding up hill and down dale, drinking and eating lavishly (ish) and pottering around charming market towns, and all of it to the lumbering, overpowering soundtrack of more Peruvian Cumbia.

DJ Chorizo Funk

The cd hogging the player for most of the time was one burned from a belting mixtape from some feller calling himself DJ Chorizo Funk (I know, I know, but bear with me…). I think the mix was put together to celebrate the reopening of a club called Peligrosa in Austin, but I’m way out of my comfort zone here. It’s a terrific mix of razor-sharp brass riffs, reedy organ sounds, and plaintive calls from the heart in half-intelligible Spanish, all of it glued together with the goofy bumpety-bump rhythms of Cumbia.

And it’s free to download. (Yes!)




I was at the rugby a fortnight ago with my pal, Martin, who not unreasonably asked me if I’d heard anything good recently. Inexplicably, I was taken by surprise and muttered some incoherent nonsense about Cumbia – I think I even trotted out some predictable rubbish about “summer sounds” and it being “irresistible”.


My cack-handed inarticulacy has bugged the hell out of me ever since, and I’ve spent more than a few quiet moments in the days since composing the sort of beguiling testimony that the sparkling players of Columbia and Peru deserve.

I hope he asks me again…

Maria Lando, solo trabajo

600x600 1I’m trying to improve my (in truth, rather pitiful) Spanish at the moment and a friend of mine is giving me lessons. (She recently sat, uncomplaining, through my kack-handed attempts to describe the Fall gig of a few months back in broken Spanish… and has apparently forgiven me…). Anyway, she suggested, last week, that I could immerse myself in some Spanish music to get the rhythms of the language and grammar into my bones, as it were. I explained I am a little fussy about my music (quisqilloso, no less) but I thought I’d give it a go and in fact I lucked out almost immediately, stumbling upon this splendid compilation of Peruvian ballads and stompers, put together by David Byrne’s Luaka Bop.

What a great record it is!

Susana Baca

I’m not going to pretend to know much about Susana Baca, (in fact the only fact I do know about her is that she became for a short time a minister in the Peruvian cabinet) but the Maria Lando track which opens the compilation needs no background knowledge or context. It’s stunning.

I think it’s a touching account of a woman bound to a job and it’s inhuman working conditions, but as I say, with the state of my Spanish, it could well be about something else entirely. It’s beautifully sung and delicately arranged, particularly so, in the clip below… It is an absolute beaut.

There are a whole bunch of other great songs on the record and I am completely spellbound by the whole thing at the moment, but this is the song I keep returning to… Utterly, utterly magical…