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Chicha Libre | Canibalismo

album review by John Powell

Chicha Libre | Canibalismo

Enter Chicha Libre, a modern band of misfits compelled to produce Canibalismo, a bizarre set of 70s-ish Latin combustion, bursting with polyrhythms, and each of the six consistent members playing multiple instruments, including mellotron, timbales, tupper box, congas, and locutor. Needless to say, the sounds Chicha Libre make are somewhere between surf rock and merengue.

“La Plata (En Mi Carrito de Lata)” helps us down this rabbit hole of Latin-ness. The synth keeps the thing moving over a three-note waver. The guitar sounds like it’s caught a wave. The whole rhythm section has way too much fun while the others dance together over simple riffing.

“Danza del Millonario” is even more eccentric, parading around with the same mixing of sounds, but it has a spy-undercover feel to it. The album is jungle fevered, sexy, but like a greasy Latin man with a thick mustache might be sexy.

Every song, from the following “El Carnicero De Chicago” to the latter half’s “Papageno Eléctrico” and the penultimate “La Danza de Don Lucho”, has similar grooves, synth keys of all varieties riffing, sharing the spotlight with guitar, and every one now and again singing the title of the song or calling off orders to the band.

Chicha Libre have found a niche, for sure. There are plenty of bands concocting this blend of Latin rhythms and surfer vibes, harkening back to 70s integration of hollow-sounding synths, and Chicha Libre is on the bandwagon. Each song has a dusty road feel. Every song is sensual but playful. Nothing gets too serious or minor key, nothing leaves the center instrumental themes.

No need to speak the language to understand this album, either; most song titles are easily translatable into English, (any ideas what “L’Age D’Or” means?), not to mention “Number 17”, the album’s most jaunty song.

Being a niche, Canibalismo requires a mindset. It’s not something you toss on. Are you ready for Surfer Latin jamming? After 14 tracks, it kind of gets stale. They could branch out into sister genres, but they like what they’re doing, so at least it’s all quality, even if it’s all picked from the same tree.

Bottom line: Latin vibes, surfer salutations, fun sounds, simple arrangements. Chicha Libre does it with style.


0 # Sistern 2012-06-15 18:38
John and Ben,
You guys are awesome!


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