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V/A - Back to Peru, Vol. II

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Artist: V/A

Album: Back to Peru, Vol. II

Label: VampiSoul

Review date: Jun. 17, 2010

Behold an overwhelming two-disc swirl of garage rock, acid rock, surf rock, electric blues and high weirdness. This one should set off any music-nerd archeologist like a sheet of bubblewrap. Many of these acts share members, many of the representative tracks are impossibly rare b-sides, and, overall, it’s a painstakingly thorough document of a scene largely neglected by history.

While no description can summarize a fraction of this stuff, the median cut sounds like something between a scratchy Santana LP played at 45 rpm and the music from the original Batman series. (Indeed, Santana was a noted influence.)

Disc one is more upbeat and novelty-surreal (“Guau Guau a Go-Go,” by Los Shain’s, features barking dogs on vox; the band called the Datsun’s was indeed sponsored by the automaker; comedian Pablo Branda Villanueva sounds like the guy at karaoke night who’s either an alcoholic or an original).

Disc two is, by and large, more spacey, serious, and what most people think of when they think of “psychedelia;” lots of long, portentous tracks and complex fusion arrangements (the urgent splendor of Jean “El Troglodita” Paul’s “Everything Is Gonna Change” almost brings back pleasant recollections of Chicago II). As time goes on, Peru’s psych scene grew less derivative, less amateurish (not that there’s anything wrong with that), and ultimately much less easily tied to anything happening concurrently at points north.

All the same, it’s disc one that will capture our aforementioned music-nerd archeologists, for the complex fascination of hearing how these far-away artists processed the trends of the day. Los Juniors perform a hip-swiveling instrumental version of “Third Stone From the Sun”; later, Los Siderals jack the same hook, years before Right Said Fred. Many songs are skewed covers (Lesley Gore’s “Maybe I Know” by way of Monik; two Badfinger songs) and others steal riffs with intriguing stealth, presumably far under the radar of BMI and ASCAP.

By Emerson Dameron

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