Film music, by Luis David Aguilar (1978-1983) / a RootsWorld review

Soundtrack composers from Ennio Morricone to Piero Umiliani or Ryuichi Sakamoto to Lalo Schifrin have all used their score opportunities to blend genres into indescribable blends, virtually creating new musical subgenres in the process. Bizarre acid grooves are found alongside choirs, symphonic percussion, eerie drones, field recordings and noise in these composers’ most challenging scores.

This all connects them to the work of Peruvian Luis David Aguilar, a prolific musician and composer who has written music for TV shows, commercials and movies. Aguilar, whose work blends the avant-garde with classical composition and some of Peru’s indigenous traditions, was one of many of Peru’s most experimental film composers, such as Walter Casas and Seiji Asato, who made their mark know in the 1970s. And if you’ve paid attention to the other releases Buh has presided over in recent years, you know that the country had a significant, if previously neglected, experimental music scene at the time.

Ayahuasca contains three tracks, the first of which is an “El Viento del Ayahuasca” of more than 19 minutes, which served as the basis for the film of the same name, released by the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC ) in 1983. Featuring the National Orchestra and Choir of Cuba, it was apparently performed without rehearsal, which sounds impossible when listening. Tracking the sound journeys into the jungle to connect with a shaman, it reaches lofty heights of full band and choir, but also gives way to solo sections, electronically enhanced piano, unsettling percussion, eerie timpani and swept strings slightly resembling Les Baxter’s. Ritual of the savagealbeit devoid of the hackneyed attempts to capture “the exotic”.

The most interesting track of the three is “Anónimo Cotidiano”, which features Aguilar’s own analog synth. At 13 minutes, it changes tone constantly but never jarringly, with Aguilar playing spatial blips, soothing drones or counterpoint to Peruvian charango and bombo. Sometimes oddly atonal, sometimes melancholic, it’s ultimately a meditation on what the city of Lima looks like.

“Los Constructores” is the more conventional “Latin” track here, with driving timpani, anchoring basslines, and piano delivering the melody in the form of punches and flute. What could be considered salsa serves as a type of ballet behind a film featuring the repetitive labor of civil construction workers.

With Ayahuasca, Buh unearths even more music that continues to demonstrate just how rich Peru has been in sound far beyond its better-known Andean rhythms or Afro-influenced coastal dance music. This version also serves as a companion to Men, a Buh 2015 version of music by Aguilar. These two collections serve to rescue his music from obscurity.

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