LABEL: Crammed / Barbes
Chicha Libre’s first album Sonido Amazonico almost seemed like a footnote to all the research bandleader Olivier Conan had done into the forgotten Peruvian psychedelic surf-rock cumbia style called chicha, which culminated in his two ground-breaking The Roots Of Chicha compilations. Fast-forward 4 years, and now Chicha Libre’s sophomore effort shows the band building something deeper, more conceptual and truly post-modern from their retro base. Yes, they still do the odd cover -- 4 is a terrific interpretation of a classic Los Mirlos chicha; 12 continues their tradition of cumbiatizing classical music, this time Wagner. But now the originals are much more fully formed, incorporating everything from swirly keyboards (by ex-Richmonder and One Ring Zero member Joshua Camp; see track 2 for example) to West African guitar (check out Vincent Douglas on track 13 -- he’s clearly been listening to Bembeya Jazz and Orchestra Baobab) to lyrics about mathematician Carl Gauss (track 10). And the addition of percussionist Karina Colis means the band grooves much harder than before. A major breakthrough and an early candidate for album of the year.
TOP TRACKS: 2 4 10 12 13
ALSO RECOMMENDED: All of the rest of them