Los Chinches ‘Fongo’ (Movimientos) 4/5

Los_ChinchesLondon-based group Los Chinches are a multi-national collective comprising three Peruvians, one Columbian , three Brits and a Frenchman. They perform in the retro Chincha style of which fuses the music of the Peruvian Amazon with Columbian cumbia. In pratice this means that psychadelic and surfer guitar influences are incorporated into an essentially traditional Latin rhythm section which bubbles along throughout. Formed in 2009, this is their debut album and they have already performed live at prestigious festivals such as La Linea (the London Latin music festival soon to commence its 2013 edition), Glastonbury and Womad. Overall the music is quirky enough to immediately atttract the listener’s attention and hold it for some time afterwards. The tropical rhythms are uplifting and not in any sense cheesy. These are typified by the catchy intro that leads into ‘Señorita, can you tell?’, or the folksy Tex-Mex sounding ‘Be still my beating Corazon’. There are even hints of Santana in his prime on the driving guitar-led instrumental of the title track, with licks from band leader and guitarist Gareth Finnigan, and only here is there any sense of a cheesy input which is quite deliberate from the 1970s-style keyboards. Surfer guitar sounds are most evident on the instrumental ‘El Longing’ while there are hints of Manu Chao minus the rock element with instead psychadelic guitar (reflected in the stunning cover art) and heavier percussion on ‘Guiro Mero’. Another winner of a song is ‘Mueve Calor’ with an underlying rhythm pattern that recalls ‘Jingo’ and collective vocals in Spanish. In general a feature of this album is that vocals alternate between English and Spanish, sometimes even within the same song. Los Chinches are three-quarters of their way through a UK tour which will continue until mid-May. Catch them live if you can.

Tim Stenhouse