Walking the line between reverence and innovation, Sonidos Raíces del Perú shines brighter when it steps right in the middle, a foot on each side of the border. This record vibrates when its team of producers add beats, sweeping synths, and bass lines to tracks that sample and reinterpret traditional music from Peru.
Sounds and Colours is responsible for this new collection of artists reworking Andean sounds. The imprint previously gave us another fusion of indigenous rhythms and modern day electronics in SIBÖ Revisited, by the Costa Rican and Brazilian tandem Nillo & Sentidor. While both projects have similar theoretical approaches – they take music from the region and match it with modern producers – they’re decidedly different records altogether.
Sonidos Raíces Del Perú starts with the recordings of French filmmaker Vincent Moon, who visited the area and documented all the music he found while in Perú, taping everything from field recordings to noise projects to traditional songs sung and played by natives in different provinces. These recordings resulted in a mammoth collection of 33 films and accompanying soundtracks (both films and albums are available for free online). The label gathered an eclectic crew of Latin American producers to reinterpret his recordings.
Though the album collects different production styles, each beatmaker stands on their own two feet. Quixosis adds glitchy strokes to ancestral chanting; Pigmalião blends a slow cumbia dub riddim with field recordings; El Sueño De La Casa Propia integrates strummed charango chords side by side with almost dramatic synths; and Ed Bird throws a downright dance party with a hard uptempo beat. Psilosamples embarks on a journey into sound exploration that lets its pieces fall into place by the time the gentle beat drops. Nillo & Sentidor bring forth a beauty of an Andean melody with sweeping synths and a slow burning drum machine pattern.
Argentina’s El Remolón (aka Andrés Schteingart) provides one of the album’s peaks with “Wari Wawa.” Originally a folk ditty sung by Edith Ramos Guerra, a soprano singer from Puno dedicated to interpreting the vast catalog of traditional songs from the high Peruvian plateau, Remolón’s reimagining builds a bed of synths that matches the mood of the melody and Ramos Guerra’s high-pitched, emotional singing. Considering how Remolón’s work usually includes women’s voices, his pick for source material makes sense, resulting in a song that successfully captures the essence of the project.
For a record that tries to find common ground between ancient music from Central America and modern electronic sounds, Sonidos Raíces Del Perú is a seamless and well-rounded effort. The record is carried not by its anthropological or cultural value, but by the new language of self-expression it creates.
Sonidos Raíces del Perú drops on June 17 via Sounds and Colours.