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LOST TRACKS : Good CDs We Overlooked Last Year

Various Artists

Peru might not leap to mind as a breeding ground for '60s and '70s psychedelia. And yet as this ebullient 2007 compilation attests, when it came to mind-expanding music, the oil-boom cities of the Amazon could hold their own with countercultural havens from Salvador to San Francisco. Issued by Barb¿s Records, this set presents 17 examples of Western-inflected Chicha, an indigenous music that took Colombian, Cuban and Andean song forms and adapted them to the wah-wah guitar, Farfisa organ and Moog synthesizers of the then-current rock scene.

Among the mix of instrumental and vocal tracks here is Los Mirlos's "Sonido Amazonico," an atmospheric reverie that combines cumbia rhythms, Middle Eastern modalities and surf-style guitar. Juaneco y Su Combo's "Vacilando Con Ayahuesca" finds a female singer moaning over a spaghetti-western-style melody, while the group's "Ya Se Ha Muerto Mi Abuelo" has a garage-y feel reminiscent of the Sir Douglas Quintet.

Maybe the most out-of-left-field track on the album is "Para Elisa," Los Destellos' reimagining of Beethoven's "Fur Elise" as a brisk Andean ramble. As with ska and calypso bands before them, the seven combos featured here borrow from, and mingle, high and low culture in service of their freewheeling musical vision. Fans of the Tropicalia music of Brazil, especially the day-glo sounds of Os Mutantes and Rogerio Duprat, will likely find this collection revelatory.

-- Bill Friskics-Warren

DOWNLOAD THESE:"Sonido Amazonico," "Ya Se Ha Muerto Mi Abuelo," "Para Elise"

FOR LOVERS, DREAMERS & ME

Alice Smith

Singer Alice Smith's album, "For Lovers, Dreamers & Me," with its sumptuous vocals and intriguing mixed bag of sounds, is one of the best debut discs of 2007. It was also one of the best debuts of 2006.


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