Various ‘ANDINA: Huayno, Carnaval and Cumbia – The Sound of the Peruvian Andes 1968​​-​​1978’ 2LP/CD/DIG (Tiger’s Milk/Strut) 4/5

A joint venture between left-field dance label Strut and a Peruvian restaurant in London that also serves as the launching pad for an indie label devoted to the music of Peru, this compilation is the latest in a series that showcases the multi-dimensional sounds of the Andes and beyond in a country that seldom receives any international attention, and more the pity. It is wildly eclectic and fun-loving music with a strong dose of the roots tradition mixed up with external musical influences. Thus Colombian cumbia, big band mambo brass, surfer guitar and even the sound of the violin all feature and this imbues the music with a healthy dose of folkloric meets psychedelia, with rock all rubbing shoulders.

A real favourite and guaranteed dance floor winner is ‘Caymeñita’, by the big band mambo sound of Lucho Neves y su Orquesta, and even Machito would be proud of this number. Instrumental sounds are a feature of this varied selection and guitar and percussion operate together at breakneck speed on, ‘Todos vuelven’, by Los Walker’s de Huánuco’, which is another stunning track. Colombia vallenata rhythms can be heard in part on the romantically worded, ‘Recuerda Corazón, by a high-pitched female singer who goes by the name of La Peruanita, and the mere name hints at this being the very essence of what it means to be Peruvian. Barrelhouse jazz piano from way back seems to be the inspiration for Manolo Avales on, ‘Rio de Paria’, and he comes across as a virtuoso instrumentalist. With the gentlest of intros, but then gathering pace rapidly, comes a West African influenced number that would not be out of place on a classic 1970’s Senegalese compilation and this by the intriguingly names Los Bilbao, with guitar and keyboards prominent on, ‘Zelenita del Año 2000’. It even manages to include a violin solo.

If you liked the rootsy offerings of the Luaka Bop label, then this compilation is most definitely for you. Reaching where the more mainstream labels dare not venture. this is the authentic musical sound of the Peruvian Andes for sure.

Tim Stenhouse