Cult Classic: Arturo Ruiz del Pozo-Composiciones Nativas.

Nobody knows what life has in store for them when they embark upon the adventure that is life. Arturo Ruiz del Pozo, who was born in the Peruvian capital Lima, in 1949, had no idea that he would become one of Peru’s leading avant-garde musicians and release a classic album. 

By the time Arturo Ruiz del Pozo was a teenager, he had discovered music which was changing, and changing fast. When The Beatles made their breakthrough in 1962 with Love Me Do, he was just thirteen and watched with interest from afar. Two years later, the British Invasion groups arrived on American shores and The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Who became part of musical revolution that transformed American music. While this was of interest to Arturo Ruiz del Pozo, the music he was interested was very different.

After graduating from high school, he enrolled at the National Conservatory in Lima, where he studied with Edgar Valcárcel. When Arturo Ruiz del Pozo graduated in 1976, he decided to complete his musical education in a  city 6,326 miles away…London.

Arturo Ruiz Del Pozo had decided to complete his musical educational at the prestigious Royal College of Music in London, England. The composer and musician packed some of his favourite Peruvian native instruments thinking that me might use them in future compositions during his time in London. 

After leaving Lima, in 1976, Arturo Ruiz Del Pozo flew to London and the twenty-seven year old  enrolled at the Royal College of Music. Arturo Ruiz Del Pozo was about to spend the next two years of his life studying towards a Master’s degree in electronic composition and would be taught by one of the most eminent figures in British electro acoustic composition Lawrence Casserly, who was a former student of the Royal College of Music.

In 1967, Lawrence Casserly had been one of the very first students of Electronic Music at the Royal College of Music. The original course was  taught by Tristram Cary, who had influenced and encouraged Lawrence Casserly.

By 1969, his early electro acoustic compositions were being performed and this was the start of a long and illustrious career.

Just three years later in 1972, and Lawrence Casserly was regarded as pioneer of electronic music, who had also cofounded the mixed media group Hydra in 1972. They had made their named combining electroacoustic and instrumental sound with lasers, light smoke and projections. Hydra’s performances were groundbreaking and spectacular and brought them to the attention of the wider artistic community. 

Soon, everyone from musicians and poets, to technicians, visual artists and writers wanted to collaborate with Hydra. Meanwhile, Lawrence Casserly’s academic career at the Royal College of Music was blossoming in 1976 when he first encountered Arturo Ruiz Del Pozo.

When he arrived at the Royal College of Music, he had already graduated from the National Conservatory, in Lima, and was looking forward to completing his musical education. Especially now that he was being taught by such an eminent figure as Lawrence Casserly. 

He would influence all the students on the two-year Masters degree in electronic composition including Arturo Ruiz del Pozo. He spent two years between 1976 and 1978 working towards his degree and just like the rest of the students had to produce two new compositions. This was a requirement of the course.

For the two new compositions, Arturo Ruiz del Pozo decided to use the Peruvian native instruments that he had brought from his homeland. Combined with the knowledge that he had gained from Lawrence Casserly Arturo Ruiz del Pozo began working towards his two new compositions. 

By then, Arturo Ruiz del Pozo had immersed himself electroacoustic music, and was exploring the richness and variety of the sounds produced by the traditional instruments that he had brought from home. Combined with his newfound knowledge that he had gained over the best part of two years, and the influence of Lawrence Casserly Arturo Ruiz del Pozo had soon completed his compositions.

These compositions were premiered at the Royal College Of Music later in 1978. This was the final obstacle that Arturo Ruiz del Pozo had to overcome, and just over two years after he arrived in London from Lima, graduated on the ‘18th’ of October 1978. For the twenty-nine year old, this was one of the proudest moments of his life.

After graduating from the Royal College of Music, Arturo Ruiz del Pozo who had fully immersed himself in the electroacoustic scene in his adopted home country, decided to return home.

By the end of the seventies, Arturo Ruiz del Pozo was back living in Lima, and was part of a new generation of musicians who were regarded as innovators. They were ancestral and forefront as they began combining the sounds of native instruments and new technology. By then, drum machines, sequencers and synths were much affordable and within the budget of many musicians. This opened up all sorts of new musical opportunities for musicians like Arturo Ruiz del Pozo.

Since his return home, he began to explore the vast riches of all the types of Peruvian indigenous music. This inspired Arturo Ruiz del Pozo to new make new, ambitious and innovative music. To do this, he took a variety of instruments, ranging from drums and flutes to gongs and rattles which had different tones and timbres. Having recorded the instruments, electronic processing and tape manipulation was used to transform the dry sound. The result was new, ambitious and truly innovative.

In 1984, Arturo Ruiz del Pozo released Composiciones Nativas on cassette. It featured five of his compositions including Estudio Para Quena, Lago de Totoras, Despegue, Noche Ashaninka and Selvynas. The five compositions were part of what was a truly groundbreaking release from a musical pioneer who was well on his way to becoming one of the leading lights of the Peruvian avant-garde scene.

By 2015, Composiciones Nativas was regarded as a Peruvian avant-garde classic. Given the importance of the album, it was no surprise when Buh Records, an independent label and research platform based in Lima, Peru, that focused in experimental music, decided to reissue an expanded version of the album on CD. Composiciones Nativas-Music For Native Peruvian Instruments and Magnetophonic Tape 1978 was part of the label’s Essential Sounds Collection, which is dedicated to publishing esoteric and interesting artefacts that were released by Peruvian experimental musicians during this period. However, the album was a limited edtion and it wasn’t long before the expanded reissue sold out.

Three years later and Buh Records released a limited edition version of Composiciones Nativas-Music For Native Peruvian Instruments and Magnetophonic Tape 1978 on vinyl. It was a welcome reissue of  this Peruvian avant-garde classic from musical pioneer Arturo Ruiz del Pozo.

As Parantara opens Composiciones Nativas-Music For Native Peruvian Instruments and Magnetophonic Tape 1978, gongs that sound as if they should be used as part a religious ceremony combine with an unusual cyclical pipe motif sprinkled as metallic Fasutian sounds combine with drones. Later, urgent jangling sounds are added to the hypnotic soundscape that mesmerise as sounds assail the listener. Meanwhile, there’s a filmic sound to the mesmeric  music which sounds as if belongs on a sci-fi film that tells the story of the discovery of a new civilisation in a faraway planet.

Gurgling, swirling sounds open Lago de Totoras as liquid disappears. Soon, the soundscape reverberates as effects are added and transform the dry signal. Soon, a myriad of disparate sounds are added and together provide an alternative symphony.They range from metallic and industrial sounds to rattling, jarring, gurgling, swirling and dubby sounds that add a strangely melodic and soothing sound as this alternative symphony.

Ethereal, angelic sounds combine with eerie, cinematic strings  on Clarinete Cajamarquino which us just two minutes long. However, it still manages to be ethereal, elegiac, eerie and cinematic as this short avant-garde soundscape captivates. 

Parka en Brujas’ had a much spartan and  distant sound as high-pitched whistles combine with what sounds like birdsong. However, nothing is at seems as processing is added and sound are manipulated. As the birdsong seems to multiply, it unites with a murmuring metallic drone, which is later joined by a gravely sounding bass flute. It sounds as if it’s a remnant of Peru’s musical past, but plays its part in what was part of a groundbreaking release. It saw Arturo Ruiz del Pozo continues to push musical boundaries to their limits, and sometimes it seems, way beyond. 

Estudio Para Quena is built around eerie, otherworldly tape-delayed sounds which sounds if they’ve been played on a Japanese Shakuhachi flute. They become part of cinematic backdrop to what sounds like part of the soundtrack to an early sci-fi film. Meanwhile, alien-beings or Martians chatter urgently, as the remainder of soundscape shimmers and glistens becoming melodic, mesmeric and even dramatic as Arturo Ruiz del Pozo paints pictures with his avant-garde music.

Futuristic and even otherworldly describes the introduction to Despegue, which sounds as if a UFO is hovering before a rocket is launched. It sounds as if Arturo Ruiz del Pozo is creating the soundtrack to an interplanetary adventure where earthlings go in search and sometimes, battle the extra terrestrials. The sound of an explosion brings to an end the battle, and as the rocket plunges to earth, it is a case extra terrestrials 1 earthlings 0. All this happens within the space of four captivating minutes of cinematic music that is rich in imagery.

 Composiciones Nativas-Music For Native Peruvian Instruments and Magnetophonic Tape 1978 closes with Selvynas. What sounds like seashells rustling is combined with a foghorn drone that drifts in and out. Meanwhile, processing has been added to the drum which has an abstract sound and helical, coiling pipes add a haunting, spartan sound. With the drum adding dramatic, ominous sound, the rest of soundscapes is eerie, otherworldly and haunting but has a strange beauty that is omnipresent.

Thirty-two years after Arturo Ruiz del Pozo released Composiciones Nativas on cassette his groundbreaking avant-garde classic is starting to find a wider audience. It’s an ambitious and innovative album where Arturo Ruiz del Pozo combines elements of ambient, drone, electronica, electroacoustic,  experimental, industrial and musique concrète to create what is a Peruvian avant-garde classic. The result was an album that  features his carefully crafted collages of disparate and esoteric sounds. This ranges from sounds produced by traditional Peruvian instruments to the technology deployed by avant-garde pioneer Arturo Ruiz del Pozo. He adds effects and manipulates this array of sounds on the groundbreaking soundscapes on Composiciones Nativas. It’s essential listening for anyone interested in avant-garde or esoteric music, and is the perfect introduction to musical pioneer Arturo Ruiz del Pozo. There’s no better place top start than his avant-garde classic Composiciones Nativas.

Cult Classic: Arturo Ruiz del Pozo-Composiciones Nativas.


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