Money Chicha ‘Echo En Mexico’ LP/CD (Vampi Soul) 4/5

money-chichaThe sound of chicha music may be new to you, but there is a whole scene in Austin Texas, inspired by the psychedelic cumbia sounds of Peru from the 1970s with additional musical influences factored in. If this excellent new release is anything to go by, then chica music Texan style is an intoxicating hybrid of heavy Latin percussion, psychedelic keyboards and surf guitar. The all instrumental line-up are natives of Austin and personify the multi-layered cultural environment, performing with a variety of other groups who are just asking to be discovered by the rest of the world. They include members of Latin Orchestra Grupo Fantasmo, but are headed by band leaders Beto Martinez (guitar, bass and guiro) and Greg Gonzalez (bass,accordion, keyboards and percussion) who form the writing duo of the six piece band with extra percussion as required.
Cumbia and surf guitar collide head on the mightily impressive, ‘Lamento en la selva’, and in general a feature of the band are the superb instrumental breakdowns. A strong contender for most melodic number is, ‘Quieren efectos’ where the cumbia beat is in full control, and both the catchy keyboard riffs and special effects are a treat to behold.

The impressive four (and on occasion five) piece rhythm section cook up a storm and propel the music throughout as on the psychedelic guitar-led ‘Cosa verde’, which has a definite feel of Santana’s Latin rock. In fact there are parallels that can be reasonably evoked between the current chica scene in Texas and the 1970s La Raza movement in California, though in the case of Money Chicha the political aspect seems to absent with an all-instrumental sound.

Money Chicha are one of the most melodic Latin outfits this writer has heard in the last few years and if they are as good live as they sound in the studio, this is one hot performance band! A real breath of fresh air. Money Chicha will be performing on September 5 on US Labour Day at the Historic Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, Texas. Worth the price of admission without doubt.

Tim Stenhouse