Sunday, May 4, 2014

That Obscure Passion: Post-Punk in 1980's Peru

Voz Propia 

          The trajectory of England's late '70s/early '80s post-punk sounds cut a wide swath of influence worldwide, making an unlikely and influential stop in Peru. Imported lp's by Joy Division, The Cure, Siouxsie & The Banshees plus tons of other like-minded outfits were quickly dubbed & disseminated among music obsessed teenagers in the capital of Lima. Something about the angular riffs, poetic lyrics & overall bleak atmospheric ambiance in the post-punk sound struck a chord, in a way mirroring the tense political & economic reality the country was going through. Lima's seasonal changes also greatly affects the national character. For four months of the year, the city is clothed in a dull gray sky with intermittent showers called the "Garua". This leads it's inhabitants to slip into a gloom of seasonal depression, all fertile ground for a musical genre rooted in melancholia & existential subject matter.
      It wasn't until 1985 that the first post-punk bands formed & due to the lack of music producing resources in the country, a good amount of the original bands never managed to record more than cassette demos, with a few notable exceptions. The parallel 'Rock Subterraneo' movement happening at the time in Lima, comprised of more straight forward punk & hardcore bands, criss-crossed & overlapped these post-punk groups. At one time or another, they shared concerts/equipment/band members in a tight incestuous scene that swore allegiance to different musical genres, the great common denominator being a stubborn refusal to remain apart from the mainstream & what the national rock scene was marketing as contemporary rock youth culture.
     The following list of bands is not complete one, but it does showcase the more important ones, ranging from short-lived projects to long-standing ones that managed to stay together & record bodies of work that rival anything the cold industrial post-punk epicenters like Manchester ever produced.

 Arguably one of the first post-punk bands that formed in 1985 with members of local Punk bands Leuzemia & Flema. Their material ranged from dark slower dirges to up-tempo melodic numbers that made them a perfect fit for blending in with the more punk sounding bands in the Rock Subterraneo scene. A short lived band, their recorded output of an 8 song demo plus live cuts will be released as an Lp by RockSvb records in 2014.
  The undisputed standard bearers of this sound that managed to stay together long enough to record & continue playing consistently since their formation in 1985. They almost came close to being signed to CBS/Columbia in 1987 but their material was deemed too "anti-commercial by the record label. A famous incident at a concert where they threw dead pigeons & the lead singer spat on the crowd while stomping an American flag probably didn't help matters. They continue to this day, having released several full lengths, laying down a rich body of work that encompasses Post-Punk, Dark Wave & Gothic stylings. This song is a favorite off their heavily Bauhaus influenced 2nd demo from 1988.

   Formed in 1985 by Fernando "Cachorro"Vial, the guitarist of punk band Narcosis. Fernando is one of the prime movers in this scene, doing a Post-Punk fanzine called "Pasajeros Del Horror" with Jaime Higa as well as starting 2 more electronic post-punk projects called Pompeya & Paisajes Electronicos. Los Feudales recorded a demo in 1986 that's heavily influenced by Siouxsie/The Cure as well as post-punk bands from Spain like Decima Victima & Paralisis Permanente. This YouTube link lists the demo incorrectly as from 1992, it's actually the full 9 song demo from 1986.

  An evenly split between the sexes band that formed in 1986, playing previously in Punk bands Excomulgados & Eutanasia. They recorded a 4 song demo & disbanded by 1987. Their literary lyrics quoted existential French poets such as Antoine Artaud & native Peruvian writers all the while sounding like if the Au Pairs or The Raincoats came from Lima & sang in Spanish. Bassist/Singer Tamira Bassallo & guitarist Jaime De Lama would go on to start the more melodic pop band Col Corazon in 1989.


  Formed by one of the ex-singers of pioneer post-punk band DELIRIOS KRONIKOS in 1987. They lasted for a couple of years before breaking up in 1989. No demos exist from that period except for some choice live videos like this one from '87, showcasing their heavy The Cure/New Order sound. They recently did a reunion show in 2013 in Lima, after not playing for 24 years. Check out their Facebook page:

This band started in 1984 as a full on Punk band, broke up & restarted up again in 1987 with a new gothic influenced post-punk sound, white face make-up and all. Taking clues from Sisters Of Mercy, The Mission UK, This Mortal Coil; they strove to recreate London's original "Batcave" gothic scene both visually & musically. They reunited in 2009 & continued playing up to their big farewell show in 2013,

   Starting out as a post-punk band in 1987, heavily influenced by Joy Division. Initially recording 2 demos in the late 1980's, they would go on to radically alter their sound during the 90's. Incorporating elements of pop, grunge, commercial rock even employing a DJ for a trip-hop/electronic period. They managed to put out 4 albums, charting their musical evolution, but it is these 2 demos: "Tormenta Silenciosa ('88)" & "Rompiendo El Silencio ('89)" that earns them a place in the Peruvian post-punk pantheon.

  The first band in Peru to employ a more extreme Industrial post-punk influence of bands like Einsturzeden Neubaten, Throbbing Gristle & Controlled Bleeding. Their live shows combined a slide show of bleak modern day images and apocalyptic sounds reporting on the automated & dehumanized existence of daily life in Lima. Lasting only between 1987-1988, some of the members would go on to start in 1989 the more Techno/Industrial dance outfit T De Cobre.


  A short lived band that formed part of the Visual & Theatrical movement know as Level 14. This art collective did fanzines, wrote anarchist graffiti & supported alternative bands in a non-commercial fashion. The following song is from their one & only demo from 1988 that was later reissued on CD. They recently reunited for a reunion concert in 2013.


   Great band that went for a more atmospheric The Sound/Comsat Angels influenced songs. They existed between 1987-1989, with their original singer going on to form the Alternative Rock band Dolores Delirio in the 1990's. This song is off their one & only demo from 1989.


Honorable Mention: NARCOSIS "Danza De Los Cristales"
   Narcosis are known as one of the most influential Hardcore/Punk bands from Peru, their 1985 demo is a benchmark of the scene in it's formative stages. Amidst the bile & fury of the 13 songs included on said demo, they found the time to do this more atmospheric gloomier tune that served as an inspiration for the post-punk bands to come. It's no wonder that the author of this tune, guitarist Fernando Vial, would start the post-punk outfit Los Feudales as Narcosis broke up in late 1985.


Thank you so much to Sandro Dogma & Cachorro for all the info, here's a link to a cool blog that has most of the above mentioned bands recordings for download:


  1. Hey!!! Buena crónica con las bandas que tocaron en ese tiempo. Formar parte de esta corriente me cambió la vida... y lo sigue haciendo...

  2. As usual your write is not only informative but enlightening. You know while I was doing whatever I was doing in '85 there was this whole scene tucked thousands of miles away of like minded folks doing their thing and doing it well. Nice too that you have made sure they haven't been lost to time.