Peruvian Label Repsychled Unearths the Lost Hits of Psych Rock

RePsych

In the late 1960s and early ‘70s, Peru was a hotbed of vital, thrilling new music. There were early mambo and cumbia singles, an array of Latin funk jams, and a thriving psychedelic rock scene. While Andrés Tapia del Rio, head of the Peruvian label Repsychled, wasn’t yet born during that initial burst of activity, he’s made it his mission during his adult years to preserve his country’s pop cultural history.

“I remember I was in the university, and some people asked me about the music I was listening to those days. I told them about [Peruvian groups] Traffic Sound, Telegraph Avenue, We All Together, and Laghonia. But these friends didn’t know those bands,” says Tapia del Rio. “In that time, the Internet had just arrived in Lima, and nearly no info was around to read, or music to listen to. You could only get maybe a self-recorded tape, or a bad quality CD with no info. So I thought, ‘Someday someone must do something about it.'”

He’s certainly risen to the task, licensing physical reissues of classic psych rock albums from around the world, and putting together compilations of forgotten local music for digital release. Tapia del Rio’s philosophy for what he releases boils down to “things he likes,” but more specifically, “music that needs to be rereleased—good music that has an amazing history, music that was rereleased in bad quality and deserves to be edited better—compiling certain stuff that fits well together, and making something nice that people/artists will love.”

Most importantly, he wants to share his wide-ranging love of music with his listeners. “I think it’s a nice opportunity to mix styles. That way, somebody who only listens to U.K. psychedelia could discover band from Peru from the ’60s and ’70s. Or someone who searches for tropical music [can discover] cumbia, and then that leads into Latin funk and psychedelia.”

Here’s a small sampling of essentials from this diverse label.

Traffic Sound
Virgin

One of the foundational acts of Peruvian psych rock, Traffic Sound absorbed the zeitgeist of hippie rock on their 1970 debut, Virgin. With songs ranging from Doors worship to folkie flower power to the Latin fusion masterpiece “Meshkalina,” they provide a journey through a key part of rock history on the first Peruvian rock album to feature entirely original compositions.

Tarkus
Tarkus

 

Tarkus didn’t need an armadillo tank to create some of the heaviest rock to come out of Peru and Argentina in the ‘70s. Their first (and, until 2008, only) album from 1972 was released during the years before metal had fully codified, so they swing between the Sabbath-isms of “El Pirata,” acid freakouts like “Cambiemos Ya,” and the loungey “Tranquila Reflexion.”

Kim Jung Mi
Now

This South Korean psych folk masterpiece is all the more notable for having been created under a military dictatorship. Guitar wizard Shin Joong Hyun handled the songwriting, production, and arrangements, creating a lush backing for the unknown Kim Jung Mi’s delicate voice. Tapia del Rio describes it as “very seductive and sexy.” It’s a sensuous experience that sticks with you.

Nil’s Jazz Ensemble
Nil’s Jazz Ensemble

Nils Jazz Ensemble

The timeless nature of Nilo Espinosa’s saxophone and flute playing appeals to Tapia del Rio, but it’s the funky arrangements that really make this stand out. The jazz sextet’s joyful interplay helps fill songs like “Reflexiones” and “Hard Work” with Latin flair, showing that these sounds may have originated in different continents, but they belong together nonetheless.

Laurence Vanay
Galaxies

Jacqueline Thibault may be best known as the wife of Laurent Thibault from French prog weirdos Magma, but one listen to her debut under the pseudonym Laurence Vanay, Galaxies, will have you referring to Laurent as Jacqueline’s husband instead. She sings in French, plays guitar, keyboards, and drums, and makes some of the weirdest art rock you’ll ever hear—as well as some of the prettiest folk ballads.

Mag All Stars Vol 1.
Mag All Stars

According to Tapia del Rio, MAG Studios was popular back in the mid-20th century for its sound: a two-track mono recorder, one microphone, and great recording techniques made everything feel richer and livelier. This collection is heavy on covers, but Latin, guaracha, salsa, and guaguanco legends like Alfredito Linares, Tito Chicoma, and Al Valdes Jr. & Chocolate take those standards and give them a brand-new energy.

Various Artists
Ayahuasca: Cumbias Psicodelicas vol 1

This carefully curated selection of rarities perfectly illustrates the intersection of Latin music and psychedelic rock that Tapia del Rio has made his mission to highlight. Standouts include Grupo Armonía de Pucallpa’s lomo saltado Western theme “Selva Ardiente,” the fiery jungle fury of Los Telstars’ “Bongocero,” and Grupo Santa Fé’s Santana homage “Simple de Santa Fe.”

-Jeff Treppel

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