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Music Consumption: Yma Sumac
05/05/2000 Yma Sumac: Xtabay & Mambo

Two (count 'em, two) Yma Sumac LPs (Xtabay and Mambo). Totally the '50s suburban idea of what Peruvian folk music sounds like. Extremely strange, and the liner notes are a major hoot. Sure, sure, the conceit is that she's this Incan princess or something, and the tunes are supposed to be ancient Peruvian folk songs. Of course, the same liner notes also say that the tunes were written by her husband/manager (and I've heard that they were actually written by Les Baxter). I don't think of it so much as the liner notes contradicting each other, exactly--I think the writer was making up so much, it turned into a state of all-embracing falsehood. Great vocal performance by our girl Amy Camus.

(I've since heard confirmation from two sources--who should know--that she's not "Amy Camus." They've also argued that the tunes are Peruvian folk tunes, but really for the life of me, as someone who's heard actual Peruvian folk music, I can't hear folk tunes in these. If they're in there, they're buried so deeply under the orchestration that the point is effectively moot.)