Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Rough Guide to Afro-Peru

The Rough Guide series of albums highlighting world music has an exciting entry with this 2002 entry, subtitled "The Musical Spirit of Black Peru."  As is the case more often than recognized, the intersection of societies throughout the world brings interesting hybrids in music, so that the saying "music is the international language" might be somewhat modified to "music is an international language with many dialects."

On this sampler, there are eighteen tracks spanning just over an hour, providing a satisfying array of elements of music performed in the South American country which, as with so many "new world" states, has a profound debt owned to Africans who were forced to serve as slaves for Spanish overlords for centuries.  One of the better outcomes of this situation was the creation of a music that blended rhythms from West Africa with instrumentation and melodies from both the African and Spanish traditions.

YHB is not very familiar with the performers found on this album, though one name, that of Susana Baca, was vaguely recalled.  She, Eva Ayllón, Cecilia Barraza, Lucila Campos and the ensemble Peru Negro are each allotted two tracks, as is Oscar Aviles with varying partners.  The truth is that there isn't a marginal track on this excellent overview of a music that can only be very generally hinted at on the album.

There are breathy ballads, all-out party pieces, and some eclectic tracks, as well.  Baca's opener "Golpa E' Tierra" is a beautiful way to begin the record and the masterful sequencing is aptly demonstrated by the dance-heavy "Ruperta" by Peru Negro.  Other highlights for this listener include "Negro Carbon" from Manuel Donayre, Roberto Rivas' "Arroz con Concolon," featuring a donkey jaw shaker,  and Ayllón's "Cardo O Ceniza."  Again, though, everything is excellent on this top-notch sampler.

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