Ranil's Jungle Party
Ranil's music is the missing link between the Latin rock of Santana and the lost civilizations of the Amazon — on this expertly compiled album, you'll discover wild and graceful electric guitars, tropical Afro-rhythms, haunting indigenous melodies, exotic Spanish and Asian flavors, 60s psychedelic surf, and garage salsa, all from the semi-mythical, almost imposible to believe if you haven’t been there jungle city of Iquitos, Perú! Mike Piggot has dug up an obscure but very deserving artist here, and I am sure once you hear this for yourself, you’ll be saying – damn, how could this guy go unrecognized for so long?
From the first track, the great instrumental “Andalucía”, with its beguiling flamenco-enriched guitar that conjures up exotic lands, to the last cut “El Rondador” that sports a funky beat, Cuban melodies, and an envigoratingly raw sound, this record is a real gem all the way through. For me though, the best cut is one Ranil penned himself, “Denuncia A Tu Patrón”– a “message” song if you will (Talk Back To Your Boss) – that just happens to also have a massive, irresistible funk hook buried in it and some nice jazzy guitar (remix anybody?) – definitely the right track to get your jungle party started – people will be galloping to this one.
Ranil was a D.I.Y. guy – he saw the inequities happening in the established music business and decided he wasn’t going to let anyone exploit him – so he became not only a vocalist/musician, but also label owner, promoter, manager, and distributor, deciding to go “indie” himself right from the start – and his independent spirit shines through with grace and dignity. He’s won the hearts of his fellow citizens in Iquitos, and now with this record, he’s reaching a wider audience, so hopefully they’ll give him the love he deserves! I hear he’s breaking out of Peru and performing live again in Berlin – hopefully he’ll also travel some more and play in a city near you.
Mike Pigott, Victor Zela, and Tunchi of LimaFotoLibre have teamed up to make this Masstropicas first full length release (limited to 1000 copies), with beautiful graphics and informative liner notes (in Spanish on the LP, I have decided to translate them for my blog visitors). Plus, in the insert sheet, there’s a fun “album gallery” that just makes my mouth water – makes me hope there’s got to be more Ranil reissues in the future. In the mean time, I have to salute Mike P’s own indie spirit in sticking to his guns on this – only vinyl, and only 1000 pressed. Mike’s also fierce about making sure the money gets to the artists – he only releases stuff that’s fully and legally licensed – so you can rest assured that Ranil’s getting his due in every way with this release. Mike not only wants us to enjoy this music, he wants to help these musicians who often were exploited in the past. Do your part and order the record today – Light In The Attic are distributing it, you can check it out there and several sites have samples to listen to if you are interested.
—Pablo "DJ Bongohead" Yglesias
Translated liner notes from the LP:
Peru is a single country with many faces. Geographically, there is a very marked division between the deserts of the coast, the high mountains of the sierra, and the deep jungle; all of which influenced the country so that a wealth in variety of cultural manifestations were formed, obviously including music. Natural contact with their neighbors in Colombia led Peruvian musicians to experiment with cumbia in the 1960s, mixing it with sounds originating from rock and folk influences in particular from each corner of Peru. From that period hence, Peruvian cumbia would seek its own style and would develop in different zones. In the jungle, it is fitting to emphasize as important the musical areas San Martin and Pucallpa. From the alter come – just to mention a few - Los Blackbirds, Los Trionix, The Dexters, Siglo XX, Sonido 2000; while in Pucallpa there were Juaneco y su combo, Los Royals, Lod Tierra Roja, Los Claveles, etc.
But then, during this early development in the domestic cumbia music scene, would come a turn for the largest city in the Peruvian jungla to shine: Iquitos, which in those years had a great boom in its economy from petroleum drilling exploitation, and was enriched culturally by the influences of nearby Brazilian music. Among the largest groups that took their first steps in Iquitos are Los Rogers and Los Yahuas; a little later a legion of excellent bands would arrive on the scene: Los Zheros, Los Wemblers, Los Silvers, Los Diferentes Kennedys, and Ranil, protagonist of this anthology.
Ranil (born Raúl Llerena Vázquez), a well-known celebrity in his native land, had his first musical experience as the vocalist of Los Paisanos, a group that played “criollo” music. Ever since then he has tried to understand the music business, and his innovative spirit caused him to undertake his own projects as musician, businessman, and promoter.
During the second half of the 70s Ranil decided to form his own tropical group and gathered the best musicians in Iquitos. Among the most emblematic guitarists to pass through the group was Lamber Zumba – who came from the group Los Silvers originally – and Betto Gaviria – who later would pass through the rock group Pax. Ranil formed his own called record label Llerena and recorded his albums in the famed studios of the great MAG record company in Lima. During this period, Ranil managed to record more than a dozen long plays and various 45 RPM singles.
After the disintegration of the group, Ranil followed a path in journalism and politics, trying at present to be elected as the mayor of his district (Belén, Iquitos). Our best wishes for him.
—Victor Zela, La Cumbia De Mis Viejos (translated by Pablo E. Yglesias)