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Peru Boom: Bass, Bleeps & Bumps from Peru’s Electronic Underground Bob Cluness , August 6th, 2015 23:05

One thing that modern cultural theory has shown us over the last few decades, is that while the monolithic rampage of global markets and the all seeing eye of cultural homogeneity seems to have ridden roughshod over local scenes and genres, the flow of information and aesthetics is never just in one direction. It works both ways. There's always a negotiation between global genres and local dialects, creating different shades and flavours of an overarching style. The rise of rap and hip hop as a global phenomenon for example bears this out. So while the likes of DJs and musicians from Diplo to Beyoncé are constantly seeking and plundering local sounds and looks from around the world to bolster their clout as global artists, localised scenes such as the South African house and shangaan electro scenes, and the Electro Chaabi scene in Egypt, take in global sounds such as house, techno and dubstep, twisting and manipulating them through their localised prism with thrilling results.

Such activity is at the centre of Peru Boom: Bass, Bleeps & Bumps from Peru's Electronic Underground, a new compilation from London's Tiger's Milk Records that showcases a new wave of artists who are at the vanguard of the Peruvian tropical bass scene, a scene which has recently become one of the hottest in South America. While previous compilations from Tiger's Milk have cast a light on the history of Peruvian music, Peru Boom instead hurtles forward to the roaring present, the inspiration for the compilation coming when label co-founder Martin Morales was taken to and subsequently blown away by a rave party held by electronic act Dengue Dengue Dengue, where local chiqua bands and records were being mixed with pounding digital basslines and electronic music by the DJs.  

It's this idea of a Peruvian party music continuum that runs through the entirety of Peru Boom as the sounds and musical traditions of Peru's musical past undergo some hefty retooling and stylistic shifts with house, dubstep, trap and footwork being woven into its sonic DNA. As such, Peru Boom isn't prepared to peddle an ossified and fetishised cultural past that we so often valorise in many musical compilations. For the artists on this compilation their music has never stood still. They want to speak and play their music with the energy and technologies of the now. The opening tracks to Peru Boom bear this desire out in different ways. 'Luto' by Animal Chuki is a blinding display of neon synths whooshing over booming bass and a thuddering kick drum, giving it a style that's more in line with a Scandinavian club tune. Meanwhile, Delatron's 'Ego Trip' has Peruvian melodies, kinetic synth arpeggios and a sludgy slowed down cumbian beat mixed with trap rhythms and heavy sub bass frequencies.

If 4/4 is the main bedrock of house and techno, the cumbian beat and music style is the common thread that runs throughout Peru Boom, a rhythmic chassis onto which differing textures and attitudes are bolted on top. For example, Chakruna's two tracks on the compilation, 'Cumbria Achorada' and 'Sonido Chichero', fuse traditional instruments and beats with air horns, digital bass and loopy synth samples. Deltatron's remix of Los Chapilero's 'Marcha Del Chullachaqui' highlights the spirit and energy of the song's traditional cambia style while also beefing up the low end frequencies. Dengue Dengue Dengue's 'Como Bailar Cumbia' even contains a sample of a woman explaining how to dance to the cumbian rhythm. This commonality means that despite the tonal differences, many of the tracks on Peru Boom blend into each other effortlessly. You could easily hear a DJ mixing the 8-bit chiptune of Qechuaboi's 'Iseecumbiapeopleagain' with the slow burning groove of Tribilin Sound's 'Underground Cumbria'. The overall pace of Peru Boom is one that's easy-going, almost languid in some sections. Tribilin Sound's 'Eduardo Y Hank' is a track that's so laidback its second home would be on a hazy Ibiza chillout session.

It's the attention and dedication to bass and the subtle implementation of global electronic music styles on Peru Boom that ensures that even a person like myself (Who until now has had little to no knowledge of Peru's tropical bass scene) is able to find pathways into their local sound. Pirana Sound System's 'Naranja Limones', one of the few up-tempo songs on the compilation, contains dark sounding textures, ending in a short but distinctive flurry of drum and bass hoover synths. Tribilin Sound's 'Negroide' is a blur of analogue and digital percussion that is crying out for a footwork remix, while Elegante & La Imperial's 'Tardes', with its dub leanings lounge room piano and drawling vocals are just pure Balearic bliss.

Thanks to Peru Boom, my interest in Tropical Bass became piqued and as a result I've spent this last week listening to some of the artists featured on the compilation. Animal Chuki's debut EP, Nativa is awash with wobbling synths and bouncing bass, while Deltatron's Soundcloud channel includes an incredible mixtape that's been on repeat in my house over the last few days. It's this fascination to delve deeper and look further into the music and the artists of a particular scene that is the mark of quality and success in a compilation such as Peru Boom. It's a fine primer of music that bleeds vibrancy and vitality as they take homogenous globalised sounds and apply hybrid aesthetics for maximum fun and effect.

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