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Chicha Libre

Biography

Brooklyn's Barbes bar and club has been something of a hotbed of musical innovation in recent years. Balkan beat wranglers Slavic Soul Party practically call the bar home, and the label released the hugely lauded The Roots of Chicha in 2007. Little did we know the label was just prepping the ground for chicha revivalists Chicha Libre, a New York-based band of gringos (led by Barbes owner Olivier Conan) that rediscovered the Amazonian psychedelic music and have dedicated themselves to reviving its cumbia-on-caffeine rhythms and deliciously antiquated surf rock sound. But where the Peruvians who originally played this music reinterpreted indigenous Andean songs, Chicha Libre divide their time between covering the genre's original songs and doing their own chicha-fied interpretations of their native music -- Vivaldi, Satie and Ravel. It's a clever twist, and the group's loose hand with their influences works: as adorably retro as it is, this is also great, visceral dance music.
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