Boomkat Product Review:
Fascinating testament to the psychedelic, symphonic and salsa vision of Peru’s Luis David Aguilar; an unsung composer of experimental synth music, jazz, and avant orchestral works, entwined with cumbia rhythms and Andean tradition - another mind-spanking primer on the amazing Buh Records, tipped to fans of Alice Coltrane’s spiritual jazz flights or Mica Levi’s ‘Monos’ soundtrack.
Dosing 3rd eyes to a blindspot in Western record shelves, ‘Ayahuasca: Música para cine de (1978-1983)’ reaps a trio of multi-faceted musical fantasias dreamt by Luis David Aguilar (Arequipa, 1950), whose commercial music is well known in Peru, but hardly heard internationally beyond a few compilation appearances. Revolving two longform works and one svelte samba, this absorbing primer is rich with ideas that speak to Aguilar’s versatility, honed over years studying at the National Music Conservatory and later in practice for a range of TV and radio productions, including children’s songs, soundtracks and jingles. He is said to belong to the “Generation of the ‘70s” aligned with Peruvian classical composers Walter Casas, Seiji Asato, and Aurelio Tello, but also shares a spirit of experimentation with jazz and electronic explorers Manongo Mujica and Arturo Ruiz del Pozo that’s all easy to hear in the colourfully prismatic soundtrack compositions on board here.
As with the titular reference to the powerful psychedelic, Ayahuasca, Aguilar’s music is a shapeshifting and possibly transformative experience that may well dilate perceptions of Latin classical and experimental musics. Rooted in his classical studies, it ambitiously weaves in myriad influences that allowed him to speak to a broader audience via the medium of TV and radio, embracing the range of studios in Lima to unleash a sprawlingly free vision that transcended classical music’s strictures, as he expands below:
“The great attraction for me was that all of the music I created was recorded immediately, and because of my academic training, I was able to write scores for symphonic orchestra. My purpose was to introduce the sounds of classical instruments in the auditory memory of a vast audience. I had never experienced this possibility before. As an academic composer, I created works that were rarely performed. Most of them gathered dust in different places or, because of my lack of order and frequent relocations, they simply got lost. But during this period, all of the music I wrote came to life. I was also able to work with different recording studios and use their fantastic technical resources. In addition, this situation allowed me to create job opportunities for classically trained musicians (who at that time were very poorly paid). Over any other consideration, this had a clear social function, and the experience was totally worthy for me. In large measure, this is why I stopped working in academic settings.”
The results here characterise that freedom between the glorious arrangement of sweeping strings and the Choir of Cuba on his soundtrack to the film ‘El viento del ayahuasca [The Wind of Ayahuasca] (1983), by director Nora de Izcue, thru to the darker, proggier, psychedelic synth insights of his soundtrack to documentary ‘Anónimo cotidiano [Anonymous Everyday] (1979), by director Jorge Rey, with pipes and percussive timbres recalling the Andean enigma and drama of Mica Levi’s ‘Monos’ OST. Finally, the lissom salsa flourish of his music for ‘Los Constructores (The Builders - 1978)’ unusually incorporates tubular bells and prepared pianos in a way adjacent to Pierre Henry’s ‘Psych-rock’ (the theme tune for Futurama) with a devilish elegance that feels like lysergic lounge music.