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Chicha Libre

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Chicha Libre plays a mixture of latin rhythms, surf and psychedelic pop inspired by music from Lima and the Amazon. The Brooklyn collective is made up of French, American, Venezuelan and Mexican musicians who mix up covers of Peruvian with original compositions in French, Spanish and English, re-interpretation of 1970s pop classics as well as versions of pieces by the likes of Erik Satie, Love and Richard Wagner. The group draws its personnel from Barbes regulars Bebe Eiffel, One Ring Zero and Las Rubias Del Norte.

Chicha is originally the name of a corn-based liquor favored by the Incas in pre-colombian days. Chicha is also the name of a South American music craze which started out in the late 60’s in the Peruvian Amazon. Cumbias amazonicas, as they were first called, were loosely inspired by Colombian accordion-driven cumbias but soon incorporated the distinctive sounds of Andean melodies, some Cuban son, and the psychedelic sounds of surf guitars, farfisa organs and moog synthesizers.

While Chicha Libre’s repertoire has evolved somewhat from the Peruvian canon, the sound and approach are completely indebted to the Peruvian bands it originally emulated. Like them, they use surf guitar, organ sounds and latin percussion to play a mixture of borrowed and homegrown sounds. The borrowings are somewhat different - classical music and pop debris from 3 continents in Chicha Libre’s case – but the latin rhythms that form the basis of the music are both as close and as foreign to them as they were to the Shipibo Indians who first took up the electric guitar.

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