Various Artists

Invenciones: La Otra Vanguardia Musical en Latinoamerica 1976-1988
Various Artists
Invenciones: La Otra Vanguardia Musical en Latinoamerica 1976-1988

Magnificent, mind-scrambling compilation of avant-garde and industrial music from Latin America circa 1976-88. Though this stuff was all made in the punk/post-punk era, the only thing that’s punk about it is its austerity. It's DIY out of necessity, not by design, and there's nary a guitar in sight (not one you'd recognise, anyway). How refreshing to be spared yet more sub-par cold wave and instead be treated to something far more abstract, alive, and enriching. Rather than genre exercises or futile bids for pop validation, all these pieces are works of fierce, suit-yourself imagination: artists using limited technological resources to imagine new worlds, new spaces for thinking and feeling. True sonic (science) fictions. 

Even if like me you’re pretty ignorant of all but the most famous Latin American music from that era, you’d expect that anyone mounting a comp with such a wide geographical and historical brief as this one's - twelve years! an entire continent! - would be taking the piss if they didn't deliver solid gold. Well, they’ve excelled themselves: shoestring systems music, deranged improv and disembowelled rock, tin-can concrete, field recordings and found sounds, minimal synth that alternately soothes and seethes - Invenciones is nothing if not unpredictable, sometimes disarming in its naivety, sometimes alarming in its violence. As Munster note, much of its content falls in the pregnant space between the end of the hippie era and the dawn of punk as a pervasive global force - in that respect its sonic and conceptual affinities with Throbbing Gristle and LAFMS make perfect sense. This is music as countercultural project, first and foremost.

But while challenging, it is never less than engaging: from the darker fare - the strange rhythmic pulsations of Carlos Da Silveira's ‘Asi Nomas’ (the ghostly, malnourished ancestor of General Elektro’s modern-day techno minimalism), the chasmic atmospherics of Musikautomatika's 'Lluvias' (think early Lustmord), the screeching, hulking terror-dub of Quum's ‘Incidente En La Ciudad...’, and Via Lactea's ‘Necronomicon’, which is a dead ringer for Painkiller - to the airy, lilting folk cadences of Banda Dispersa de la Madre Selva's ‘Aquel Pais…’ and baroque easy listening of ‘Variaciones De Amauta’. It’s a heavy-duty trip, and we’re still getting our heads around it. Not cheap, but with fourteen tracks spread across four sides and an inordinately high strike-rate - not to mention the obvious fact that you won't easily come across this material elsewhere - it’s well worth skipping a few meals for. 


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