Outrageous Peruvian Fuzztones, Vol. 1: El Medio Grupo
J.L. Carvallo and Chacalón
First in a series of over-the-top distortion from purveyors of fine Peruvian fuzztone, the stars of this installment are Saul Casahuaman and his Medio Grupo. Picked this up on CD-R in a hole in the wall in the backstreets of Lima, so I have neither cover art nor a great deal of information on these guys. It is apparently a selection of tracks from different albums and 45s, ripped from the vinyl by the guy who sold it to me. Saul Casahuaman was the little brother of Victor Casahuaman, the leader of Grupo Celeste, one of the major Lima-based exponents of the '70s chicha sound and an early showcase for cumbia superhero Chacalón. The Big Jackal sings here, too, along with his little brother, "Chacal" and, uh, another gentleman named Oscar Hidalgo. The real scene stealer, though, is the guitarist, José Luis Carvallo (more to come from him) and his direct-into-the-mixing board fuzz stylings. Throw in a bit of moog, cowbell and some of the best bass playing this side of the Cordillera Blanca and you've got some classic chicha. It's worth noting, I think, that this is what people mean when they talk about chicha (as opposed to cumbia), being the Lima-based variant of the cumbia style that spread from Colombia down through the Amazon and the Andes to the city, with a lyrical focus on class issues, getting drunk, and... that's about it.