Esa Cumbiera Intelectual (en español) – …another long article on cumbia , out today in the Argentine newspaper Página 12. (aside: as we drove, Pablo Lescano played me some of the upcoming Kumbia Queers album he produced and it sounded great, Andean-style vocals !, all in all unlike their current album’s dull rock covers.) shout to Sonido Martines for the tip.

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Musicans have to tune to something, and “in-tune” versus “out of tune” is a matter of relativity, so you might as well tune to the rooster.

Vibracatheral Orchestra has a nice album by that name which i blogged about 2 years back (“hangin’ out in another corner of the astral plane parking lot…); today i found its likely namesake:


[audio:06 Turning To The Rooster.mp3]

Blind Street Musicians of Cusco – Tuning to the Rooster

… once they’ve tuned it, the Peruvian harps and mandolins sound like this:

[audio:05 Marinera Cusquena.mp3]

Blind Street Musicians of Cusco – Marinera Cusqueña (3-Beat Rhythm)

the album’s buyable. Japan possess an intense tradition of blind street musicians playing strings which Ove-Naxx introduced me to.



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]