Sonido Martines tipped me off to Los Mirlos, kings of the tropical Peruvian cumbia guitar bands of the 70s, recently compiled on The Roots of Chicha CD. We talked about this music on my radio show in greater depth than flaky French hotel wi-fi allows. (Indeed, Sonido played a few of the tracks that would later appear on this compilation, months later.)

Suffice to say that the imaginary geography of this music is as cool (or cooler?) than the music itself: jungle hicks relocating to oil boom Peruvian cities, getting hyped on imported sounds from Anglophone psychedelic & surf rock bands, who inspired them to buy guitar flanger pedals and compose new party music in pentatonic scales, powerful music whose spiritual home was located in the (now mythic) Amazon, shot through with wisps of eco-branded indigenous cultural power and ayahuasca vision fields.

Los Mirlos – Sonido Amazonico (VA-Roots of Chicha)

They remain popular, and their website is outrageous and awesome in unintentional ways. This comp CD however, is marketed straight at the US/UK consumer (full title- The Roots of Chicha: Psychedelic Cumbias from Peru). So, while you’ll get the alluringly press-optimized (and only slightly ‘psychedelic’) backstory, you’ll miss out on longwinded gems from the Mirlos’ own mouths, such as this introductory sentence from their history:

“Nací en la hermosa tierra de Moyobamba (Dpto. de San Martín) siendo el tercero de cinco hermanos, en un hogar acogedor y lleno de amor con la bendición de Dios que me brindo la felicidad de tener a mis Padres: Néstor Gustavo Rodríguez Sandoval, sastre, músico, inseparable de su acordeón a quién nunca podré olvidar pues fue quien me inculco el amor por la música y el cultivo de los valores morales para ser un hombre de bien y Mónica Grández Oblitas, empleada Estatal en Correos, madre amorosa y sacrificada quien me dio la vida y la alegría de vivir.”

my quick translation for the gringos:

“I was born in the beautiful lands of Moyobamba (of the San Martin region), the third of five brothers, in a charming home full of love and the blessings of God which provided me the happiness of having my Parents, Néstor Gustavo Rodríguez Sandoval, tailor, musician, thoroughly inseparable from his accordion, whom I shall never be able to forget as it was he who inculcated in me a love of music and the cultivation of the moral values requisite for proper manhood, and Mónica Grández Oblitas, employee of the national postal service, loving and self-sacrificing mother who gave me both life and joy in living.”

that’s one sentence!

its amazing how the story unfolds if you just listen.


[Los Mirlos, hoy dia]

10 thoughts on “LOS MIRLOS”

  1. thnx bruitist – i do have that 7″, its fantastic. good to see it in virtual circulation. i havent heard TLSLA tho’.

  2. Tom Smith’s been very generous with his avant-garde collection in the past year or so — poke around his blog some more for many gems.
    As for TLASILA, their most celebrated release is The Wigmaker, which you can check out here:
    It’s quite dense and difficult to describe, with its five-year gestation period, trashy electroacoustics, found sounds, cut-ups, dubs and remixes, all wrapped in songs with elaborate lyrics.
    Tom also has ties to Schimpfluch; he is one quarter of Ohne.

  3. Yes! I love this stuff. Bonkers, absolutely great. Two of my favorite worlds coming together: cumbia y psychedelia. It reminds me of seeing hairy cumbia groups in the 80’s at Saturday dances in Mexico. I like that Barbes, that place in Park Slope, put this out. I didn’t even know they had a label. Much thanks, keep it up, J….

  4. There is a song “La Danza de los Mirlos”, than is cover by any group of cumbia in Argentina. Its oustanding, the sound grows and grows in a kind of trip…

    great blog, good combination cno Sonido Martines, and so.



  5. me parece muy divertido y me gusta el el cd PIDEME LA LUNA Y SOY FANATICA DE LOS MIRLOS_ademas de ser la fans nº1
    yo decearia que todos los escuchen por que cantan muy bien

  6. Great entry, my friend. I am in Lima right now and just bought tons of chicha at a very, very tiny record market that smelled like piss on Av. Wilson. I got them and Los Diablos Rojos!

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