Discos Horóscopo and the renaissance of chicha peruana

Music from Peru (Creative Commons)

After thirty years, a part of the catalogue of the Discos Horóscopo, the legendary record company of the Peruvian chicha, is back in print.

Bringing an old record company back from the ashes is not an easy job. The discos Horóscopo has been closed for almost 30 years now, after bringing to success talents such as Chacalón y la Nueva Crema, Los Shapis, pintura roja, Los ovnis, alegría. All names belonging to the genus from the peruana chicha.

The influences of these artists are still alive today and that is why Jalo nuñez Del Prado, director of the Horóscopo discos, decided to republish a dozen albums from the Seventies and Eighties that made the history of this kind of music. In order to do so, he has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.

La chicha peruana The Peruvian chicha is a potpourri of cultures, a medley of harmonies that begins to delineate in the 1960s.

In those years in fact in Peru many inhabitants of the Andean territories moved to the big cities, and the suburbs of Lima were populated almost exclusively by the new working class. Thus was born a whole generation of emigrants, the so-called Provincianos, as one of the pioneers of the chicha, Chacalon, sings.

Each of them brought with it different traditions and sounds: there were those who brought the rarefied sounds of the Sierra highlands, who satirical Amazonian texts, who salsa and the Spanish balada.

The music that descended with them from the Andes to shanty town in Lima was born from the cumbiamba, which was already in itself a mixture.

This kind of sounds rhythmic by percussion such as the guira, typical Andean drum, has African origins. He arrived in Latin America with the Atlantic slave trade in Africa and defined himself as a true ritual dance of slaves in the Colombian plantations.

Since its origins, therefore, the chicha, like the Colombian cumbia, is characterized as an amalgam of ritual sounds. When in the 1960s this world met that of big cities, Huayno music and pentatonic stairs of Andean music mingled with Cuban percussion, the sounds of California surf guitars, the cheesy sound of the Italian keyboards farfisa that influenced the birth of the psychedelic chicha or chichedelica.

Also the name chicha was strongly connotation and identification of the Provincianos generation: was born in fact from the name of one of the most widespread beers in the outskirts of Lima that was obtained through the distillate fermentation of maize and other cereals. A drink still widespread today as an aperitif for its very low alcohol content, but originally born in Peru as a drink of the rituals of the population of Quechua.

In short, chicha was a poor drink that the citizens of the white Creole elite began to use as a stigma of the inhabitants of the poorest suburbs. On the contrary, the citizens of the popular neighborhoods and favelas of Lima appropriated this name with pride, and continued to drink chicha to boycott large industries such as peas, Peruvian brandy.

Thus, the name extended from the inhabitants to their artistic products, from music to any form of art that came from the working-class neighborhoods.

In the course of the process of urbanization, therefore, the Peruvian chicha in all its declinations becomes a real response to the marginalization of the subordinate classes in an extremely chaotic context as was that of the eighties, between the highest inflation and the terrorism of the armed gangs who wanted to subvert power, like sendero Luminoso.

At the same time, Peruvian cities experienced a second migration to the cities, the largest of the 20th century. The people of the Provincianos became ever more numerous and determined to fight for democracy and justice also through art, which becomes a mirror of the socio-cultural situation of the suburbs. The struggle in which the chicha fits is a hymn to diversity, to melting pot, to chaos.

The new context and the new identity bring great changes also at the musical level: will suffer from the lyrics that are loaded with an imaginary bittersweet, between homesickness and hopes for a better life in the city, the celebration of the success achieved with work, the denunciation of discrimination, the struggle between the social classes.

This strong sense of identity of the new emigrants is collected by a new record company, the Horóscopo discos, which opened its doors in 1977. The story of its origin is linked to a character named Juan Luis Campos muñoz who had a workshop in a small country of the Peruvian hinterland.

One day he decided that it was necessary to organize a musical event to raise funds to renovate the only fountain in the country. Campos invited to play Los pasteles verdes and the event had a great success: from that day he decided to change his job. Recovered contact with an old friend, Victor Mayorga, who had worked in the world of discography in Lima, where he moved and founded the discos Horóscopo to produce Los pasteles verdes and specialized over the years in the production of traditional Peruvian music: Campos soon became King Midas of the Peruvian chicha artists who had arrived in Lima with the first migration.

The creative power of the Andean artists was thus conveyed and received by the new little reality, which allowed the survival of the mixing of sounds that was being created.

An important change that occurred in recent years in the production of cumbia and chicha was the introduction of female voices, which concluded a further diversification of the topics covered, but above all an expansion of the audience and the export of Peruvian discography abroad, by now mature.

However, the gap did not reach the 1990s and closed in 1989, mainly due to competition and piracy.

In 2015 Jalo nuñez Del Prado, a young Peruvian entrepreneur, spent six months with the 80-year-old Campos in order to fully understand the work of the chicha master, and then commit to remastering the 10 albums that made the history of label, Latin music and more. In fact, the importance of discos derives from this collection of records of the Seventies and Eighties, without which the new scene of digital cumbia of Argentina, Peru and Colombia would never have been born.

In the last 10 years, since 2007, barbès Records has released the seminal compilation The roots of chicha: psychedelic Cumbias from Peru, many international artists have approached Paruvian traditional music and its electro-psychedelic variations. This genre is in recent years becoming more famous because of International artists that are using Cumbia tones in electronic music. For example, Nicola Cruz from France, Populous from Italy, and Chancha via Circuito from Argentina.

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