Chicha Libre plays a mixture of Latin rhythms, surf music and psychedelic pop inspired by Peruvian music from Lima and the Amazon. The Brooklyn-based band mixes up covers of forgotten Chicha classics with French-tinged originals, re-interpretation of 70's pop classics as well as cumbia versions of pieces by Satie and Wagner.
The band – led by Barbès club owner Olivier Conan – is reviving the style that was popular among indigenous empowerment groups in the 1970s, but frowned down upon by the middle class and mainstream. Antibalas did it with Afrobeat. Sidestepper did it with Afro-Colombian music. Now Chicha Libre does it with the funky wah-wah groove and psychedelic organ of Peru's Amazon. Their 2008 debut album, Sonido Amazonico features cover songs from the era alongside originals arranged not only in the sound of the time, but using the spirit of Chicha's syncretism.
On "Primavera," the group takes Vivaldi's Spring theme from The Four Seasons, puts it in a minor key, and chicha-fies it. While "Sonido Amazonico" finds Chicha Libre paying homage to the style as closely as possible, "Six Feet Under" is an attempt to stretch the limits of Chicha. The band used a vaguely Greek melody and a French chorus showing that they can play their own brand of Chicha.