Boomkat Product Review:
Forward-thinking Afro-Peruvian ensemble Perkutao descend on the always essential Buh label with a free flowing fusion of traditional percussive forms and elements drawn from Caribbean and South American pop. It's exceptional material, essential listening for anyone drawn to propulsive, hypnotic rhythmic music that seeps across borders.
Established in 2005, Perkutao is a young Afro-Peruvian group under the tutelage of musician and teacher Percy Chinchilla, who brought the band to the attention of Buh Records. Producer Manongo Mujica was working on Buh's Perspectivas de la Música Afroperuana (Perspectives on Afro-Peruvian Music) series, looking for a percussion ensemble working with the music's root rhythms, when Chinchilla astonished him by suggesting Perkutao. "And why didn't you ever tell me?" he exclaimed. Listening to "Mis Ancestros", it's easy to hear why Mujica was so gobsmacked by their music - the group's focus is in Afro-Peruvian rhythmic forms, but they don't simply stop there, they use this base to freewheel through sounds that speak not only to the Afro-Peruvian experience but its historical connections with the Caribbean and elsewhere.
Perkutao's focus is laid out on the title track, where Chinchilla talks evocatively over slow, purposeful rattles and polyrhythmic, tempo-fluxed hits. "I follow in the footsteps of my ancestors, to the beat of the cajita, the quijada and the cajón, to the rhythm of a zamacueca, a festejo and a good landó," he assures us. The rhythmic sources are identifiable to Afro-Peruvian listeners, but might be more difficult for anyone outside of that tradition to discern. So here it's laid out in no uncertain terms, each track - exceptionally recorded by Mujica - asserts the rhythm before alternative elements tip it into different spaces. 'Azañero Colorao' for example starts with whirrs and hand drum smacks, cautiously building into more familiar patterns that link ancient rhythmic forms with Afro-Cuban woodblock sultriness.
On 'Africana', the group's complex drumming is married to elegiac kora cycles, and on 'Madre África' Perkatao use djembes to roll across metallic pings and hollow, shifting patterns. These fractal beat experiments are tempered by the band's more light-hearted tracks, like their version of Cuban song 'Lloraré' that connects their percussive virtuosity with lilting, emotional vocals. So fucking good, honestly - another stunning plate from Buh.