Martin Morales is a Peruvian-born, British-based, DJ, record collector, audiophile and pioneer of Peruvian food in the UK and was recently named GQ‘S Food and Drinks 2017 Innovator of the Year — but he’s also known as the co-founder of renowned world music label Tiger’s Milk Records. And although he’s spent half of his life in the UK, Morales in recent years has frequently returned to his birthplace — and in particular, the Andes — in search of recipes, records, sounds and inspiration for a variety of projects under the umbrella of his London-based company Ceviche. Morales, along with Tiger’s Milk co-founder Duncan Ballantyne, former Soundway Records label manager, and Peruvian DJ and crate digger Andres Tapia del Rio teamed up to create a series of compilations featuring the sounds of the Amazon and Andres, starting with the ANDINA: The Sound of the Peruvian Andes — Huayno, Carnaval and Cumbia 1968-1978.
The compilation is meant to offer a fresh perspective on Peru’s multifaceted heritage, brining to light the divergent, exciting traditions that have emerged from Peru’s strip of the Andes Mountains, including cumbia, folkloric harp, Lima-based big band jazz that was influenced by their highland countrymen and so on; however, the compilation was never intended to be a definitive or complete overview of Andean music. Besides focusing on a particular period of music, 1968-1978, the compilation is selection of what they think are the most exciting insights into Andean musical culture, with the debut release of many tracks outside of Peru since their original release on Peruvian labels like Iempsa, Sono Radio and El Virrey — but perhaps more important, the sound most represented is a cumbia where groups imbued a tropical, Colombian style with Andean folk rhythms and rock-like electric guitars, the number of traditional folk numbers recorded and released during that era and of course, carnaval music; in fact, some of the featured bands took touchstones on much-loved music criolla — black music from the coast — but filtered through cumbia, and others employ Afro-Peruvian sounds. Or in other words, the Andean sound draws influences from the musical and culture legacies of indigenous Latin America and the African diaspora. The album’s first single Los Compadores Del Andes’ “La Mecedora” pairs is a cumbia featuring a tight, African Diaspora-influenced, percussive groove with a breezy, organ-led tropicalia, and bright blasts of brass, but perhaps most important, the song reveals a deep truth about the sounds of Peru and its Andean regions — that it’s arguably one of the most unique yet dance floor friendly of the entire region, while giving you a view into the sounds that were popular during the late 1960s.
Reflecting on his connection to the Andes, Martin Morales remembers: “Growing up in the coastal city of Lima, it was my grandmother who kept our family’s connection to the mountains alive. Our visits to her home high up in the Andes in the province of La Libertad and the fascinating 18 hour trips we made to reach her passing through villages and towns, sounds and flavors, imparted in me a strong sense of the Andes’ traditions, creativity and rich artistic textures.” The Andes’ different cultures have resulted in a myriad of ever-evolving hybrids as shown by this collection, which opens the door onto just a few of its most fascinating musical examples.