Boomkat Product Review:
Peruvian sound poetry 1972-2021 in focus on Lima’s excellent Buh Records, introducing a whole new area of research to our ears with 22 parts that mirror the genre’s progress in tandem with technology
Arguably the first great overview of sound poetry from Peru, ‘La Materia Verbal: Antolog í a de la Poes í a Sonora Peruana’ has precedents in a pair of CDs - ‘Nuevas tradiciones orales’ and ‘Irse de lengua’ - that previously laid out the style’s interdisciplinary fusion of experimental art and technology with local culture and oral tradition in 2009 and 2011. This new collection widens the time frame and and arrives with extensive new liner notes for an in-depth survey charting earliest works with tape and collage techniques, thru to the application of AI and algorithmic computer process in the modern day. It’s a persistently beguiling primer on this lesser spotted movement, and especially so for international ears who may be acquainted with sound poetry’s iterations from western academia or experimental art, but we’d daresay have little knowledge of what’s been happening to its forms in the depths of South America.
Broadly cleft between three zones of interest - montage, oral performance, and computerised frameworks - there’s an abundance of strange and wonderful vignette-like transmissions that require no knowledge of Spanish in order to enjoy their rhythmic and textural qualities. The sequencing toggles between these brackets in a disorienting manner, presenting passages of naif computer music such as Mario Montalbetti’s piece for scatty kids and cuboid synths alongside the sensuousness of Jorge Eduardo Eielson’s rolled R’s and the Stakker-esque, dadaist reordering of Francsco Mariotti. The likes of Virginia Benavides deploy extended vocal techniques inspired by nuclear physics, and Luis Fernanda Lindo’s cut-up oddity arrives to a shocking siren call, while Carlos Estela layers his voice with more phantasmic computer music, and Rodrigo Vera Cubas plays with rhythmic impulses beside properly alien transmission by Giancarlo Huapaya and Omar Cordova.
It’s not too much of a leap of the imagination to draw link across borders between these pieces and the experimental pop of South American progressives Lucretia Dalt or Elysia Crampton in parts, and likewise to the likes of Phil Minton or Roy Claire Potter in the UK - they’re all nodes of an interrelated rhizome fascinated with what happens when you stop making immediate sense and get down to the materiality and spirit of spoken word and its myriad meaning in the shifting contexts of contemporary worlds.