Various Artists

Peru: Viracocha - Legendary Music of the Andes

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This Lyrichord release must have pre-dated the concept that informative liner notes would be a plus on a release of ethnic music. Listeners will hear some fascinating sounds, will want to know what is going on, and will have to take the record off and squint at the label to be enlightened. No track list exists on the sleeve itself, although a partial list of instruments represented reveals that the artillery cupboard of traditional Peruvian music is loaded for bear. There is the six-holed wooden flute called the kana, the 27-string Peruvian harp, a local adaptation of a cornet made of ebony, and even a pipe organ that an Indian farmer built out of an old piano mixed with bicycle and car parts. All this sounds and is fascinating, but producer J.F. Sheppard does everything he can to scuttle listener satisfaction, fading some cuts abruptly, presenting overmodulated recordings that detract from the instruments' wonderful natural sounds, and programming in a manner that brings to mind the way someone who is running late might pack a bag while a taxi driver honks a horn outside. Some nice cameo appearances by local birds, though, on the outdoor recordings.

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