Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Poder Verde - A preview

As you know I've been hard at work finishing the rewards for our kickstarter campaign.

As Songs of Ayahuasca CD is well on its way I've turned my attention to the second promised CD:


Last week I spent two sleepless nights at DJ Akasha's house finishing the mix. We had a blast doing it and are super happy with the results.

Here are some selections from the 50 minutes mix, let us know what you think!


Here's the full liner notes


Poder Verde is a sound journey through some of my favorite Amazonian audio: Cumbia, the sounds of the rainforest, the radio ads of travelling curanderos and the songs of real ayahuasqueros.


In terms of total listeners Cumbia is probably more popular all over South America than all the better-known styles (in the global North) such as salsa, merengue or bachata put together.

Cumbia originated in Colombia’s Caribbean coast and parts of Panama as a courtship dance practiced among the African population that had been brought to America as slaves. Cumbia unites West African rhythms, indigenous instruments (Milo and Gaita flutes from the Kogi and Kuna tribes) and European instruments (the Spanish guitar and later the accordion, brought by German immigrants.)

During the mid XXth century Colombian musicians created a more refined form of cumbia that became very popular, expanding all over South America, as time passed it gave birth to a great variety of regional styles. Today Cumbia is truly a panamerican music, there are distinct Andean, Argentinean, Chilean and digital cumbia styles, among many others. This mix contains a number of such styles:

“Classic” cumbias – The “reference” style, if such thing can even be said (tracks ) where the african influence is clear. I picked these tracks off a great mix from the Ritmo y Sabor blog 

…I haven’t been able to find out much about the original artists, other than Virgenes de Sol is from the Mexican Luis Ornelas

The Peruvian cumbia sound sprung as a distinct style in the early 60´s, when Henry Delgado took the accordion -which was the staple sound of the original Colombian Cumbia- and substituted it with the electric guitar, creating a sound that, by our standards, is reminiscing of surf music. Soon there were regional variations of the Peruvian sound. Juaneco y Combo, together with the fantastic Los Mirlos were the major originators of the Cumbia Amazónica, also known as Cumbia de Oriente or Poder Verde, a style which appeared in the 70´s together with the first oil boom of the Peruvian Amazon. The style has experienced a revival of sorts recently thanks to reissues by Barbes Records, and new re-recordings by bands such as Bareto.

This mix includes tracks from Cumbia Beats Vol. 1, The Roots of Chicha Vol. 2 and the less known but absolutely killer Ranil’s Jungle Party. If you love the music, please support the artists by buying some of these records

Cumbias rebajadas – Meanwhile something strange happened in the 70s in La Campana and Independencia, two rough neigborhoods in Monterrey, Mexico where Colombian Cumbias were very popular. People began to listen to the 45 rpm records at 33 rpm. It all started as an accident when Sonido Dueñez’s system malfunctioned and started playing cumbias at half the speed. The audience, instead of complaining, loved the new sound, the voices had become psychedelic, the rhythm hypnotic. People began to ask for their cumbias “rebajadas” (slowed down) Dueñez began to put out mixtapes of rebajadas, which became enormously popular.  Here's the full story

The style spread all over Mexico and then all over the Americas, eventually influencing other genres. It is believed, for example, that the Screw Rap style from Houston is a sort of rap rebajado.

The rebajadas on this compilation come from this great mix


Altogether I must have spent nearly 2 years of my life in the Amazon, including a few months deep in the jungle. I’ve been into weird experimental music and sound art for many many years, that means that I will actually listen to just about any sound (musical or not) with some interest. From that perspective the jungle soundscape is –to me- nothing short of sonic luxury. You’ll never find so many sounds, most of them beautiful, all of them interesting, going on at the same time, and with so much variation as the day progresses. I could listen to the jungle all day and a number of times, I have!

I’ve collected I this mix some of my favorite Amazonian field recordings, including sunrise and sunset, insect and frog choirs, and a full-on tropical rainstorm, starting with the first drops for rain, passing through the giant thunders and downpour, all the way to the growth of the rivers’ flow after the storm. I’ve placed them throughout the mix in a progression from calm morning to sunset, to rainstorm, to morning after, that in a way follows the progression of an ayahuasca experience.

If you want jungle field recordings without the cumbias, Paco Lopez, the big Kahuna of Spanish experimental sound is your man


I've also included number of Ikaros and other songs recorded during ayahuasca sessions.

The first track is called "Amazon Indian ayahuasca song.mp3" I downloaded it from soulseek many many years ago. I tried to find out more about it because I really like it, but I was unable. It remains a mystery to me. Let me know if you have any info about it.

The second ikaro is by Maria Luisa Tuesta Flores who worked with Howard Lawler at Spirit Quest. She was also one of Steve Beyer’s teachers, he wrote about her here

The third is Madre Ayahuasca, received by Rosa Giove and sung by Jacques Mabit

The fourth song is not technically an ikaro. It’s a song to Tonantzin, the Mexican mother goddess. But it was sung by a friend named Sofia the morning after an aya session. I really like it and decided to include it.

Fourth and fifth ikaros are from that same session, sung by Raffaelle Mackay with Fabian and Nico, refer to Songs of Ayahuasca for more info.


The last and perhaps the most original element of the journey are the curandero ads from Radio Tropical, Tarapoto. (on tracks ) In the Peruvian jungle where I’ve spent most time everybody that can afford a small radio receiver has one. Generally it’s on all day. It keeps them company while they work on the chacra. It was out of those radios that I began to hear ads for travelling curanderos, magical remedies, medicinal plants and removal of evil eye and witchcraft. I was completely fascinated by these ads (some as long as infomercials.) One part snake oil salesmen, one part XXIst century shamanism, seven parts crazy reverb and boombastic radio hosting, these ads read to me like the audio embodiment of the worst collective fears of Amazonian folk: the envy of others manifested as witchcraft, bad luck in crops, in business and in health, the loss of love though the calculated actions of others… The themes will be familiar to anyone who has spent time around indigenous and mestizo curanderos in the Amazon, yet I’ve never heard them expressed with such force and destructive paranoia. Scary stuff meant to scare, down to the ghoulish sound effects...

A friend in Madrid once told me “Advertising is the tax that the irrelevant have to pay.” Later a friend in Perú told me “No real curandero would ever buy an ad on the radio.” Indeed, real curanderos, like good chiropractors, don't need advertising. Word of mouth is enough to keep them relevant and fully booked. It is these travelling medicine-show curanderos, who pass by town and leave, and who therefore have no local reputation to bank on (or to protect) that need to fill the radio waves with ads as amazing and disturbing as the one’s you will hear here.


It took Akasha and I a couple of sleepless nights to complete this mix, we hope you have as much fun listening as we had making it

Madrid, Jan 2017

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