Various Artists

Venezuela 70: Cosmic Visions of a Latin American Earth: Venezuelan Experimental Rock in the 1970s

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The 2016 compilation Venezuela 70: Cosmic Visions of a Latin American Earth: Venezuelan Experimental Rock in the 1970s is a fairly self-explanatory title that offers a delightfully heady cross-section of psychedelic and experimental rock that emerged out of Venezuela during that prolific decade. Buoyed by Venezuela's abundant and (at the time) highly valuated oil reserves, a progressive art culture thrived from the '60s through the early '80s. Influenced by an influx of American rock, as well as Latin, Brazilian, and Cuban styles of music, Venezuelan musicians began crafting their own forward-thinking brand of funk, jazz, acid-rock, and electronic-influenced sounds. These are artists that while largely unknown outside of Latin America, made music as sophisticated and creative as the best North American and European acts. Here, we get manically fuzzed-out and trippy cuts from bands like Un Dos Tres y Fuera and the epically named Apocalipsis. These are bands who transmogrified the indigenous sounds of Venezuela, combining and often replacing traditional instruments like harps, maracas, and cuatro guitars with synthesizers and electric guitars. Many of these sides, like Grupo C.I.M.'s frenetic "Joropo No. 1 and Ofrenda Vytas Brenner's "Caracas Para Locos," are ecstatically delivered instrumentals that bring to mind the most adventurous work of Carlos Santana. Elsewhere, we get Pablo Schneider's Latin-blaxploitation-movie-theme-sounding "Amor en Llamas" and Angel Rada's "Basheeba," which sounds like lost track from France's Air. Also interesting are Vytas Brenner's bubbly, Flaming Lips-esque "Bang-Going-Gone," and the mysterious spy flamenco of Miguel Angel Fuster's "Dame de Comer." Sadly, by the '80s, drastic downswings in the oil market worked to undermine Venezuela's economy and by proxy, marked the end of this period of progressive art and music. Venezuela 70 goes a long way in keeping that cosmic dream alive.

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