On an archeological study abroad trip in Peru I discovered an abundance of fascinating items: intact ceramic pots, pre-Inca house foundations, a sketchy reggae club called Sunkella, and this wacky CD called “Iskay Inka Beats.” The latter of the bunch I encountered not on the dig but in a museum gift shop. It was described as a fusion of traditional pan flute music and modern electronica. I bought the disc on the spot.
Miki Gonzalez delivers this unusual, largely instrumental album based on traditional Peruvian music. It is a really relaxing album perfect for lounging on the beach and zoning out. Although described as a mix of pan flute music and electronic music, it is nothing like electronica. This album would not be found pumping from a club while neon-clad dancers swarm in front of the DJ. That being said, it sounds exactly as advertised: there are pan flutes chiming pleasant, methodic, high-pitched tunes while supplementary instrumentation plays in the background.
“Iskay Inka Beats” opens with “Aves Marinas,” which features mainly the pan flute. Additional instrumentation includes bird-screeches and light bongo drumming. “Bosque de Nubes” follows up with more pan flute but scales it back to highlight a jazzy, synth number which transitions to a keyboard piece reminiscent of a “Hey Arnold” episode.
As the album progresses, the electronic feel emerges more and more, differentiating itself from customary Peruvian music. “La Ofrenda” sounds like a mix between Middle Eastern music and the soundtrack to “Lord of the Rings.” Although that may seem wonky, you’ll be bopping along with the song without even knowing it. Some of the later songs on the album have scattered lyrics, such as “Fantasia de Tijeras” and “Saturnino.” Be forewarned that the words are in Spanish so depending on your fluency of the language you may not understand them. But the lyrics are sparse and the emphasis really isn’t on them as much as on the instrumentation. In fact, the lyrics aren’t sung so much as spoken.
Definitely worth listening to and downloading, the CD is a unique experience. I’d warrant a guess that you probably haven’t heard anything like it before. Unfortunately this gem of an album is unavailable from either iTunes or Amazon, but you can stream it on Grooveshark. If you want a copy to own I’m sure you can track down a copy by legal or slightly not-so-legal means…