Though I'm one of the first to say that language should be no barrier to music (that is: lyrics encanted in native tongues rather than the argot of the point of sale), doing so can also evoke a number of problems, the greatest of which is a failure to be able to inflow written meaning. The tension, then, is between what the imagination apprehends and the eyes and mind read. In Latin Noir, a highly authentic melding of many South of the Border styles and intents with socially and politically charge-up sentiments, a small war between intent and aesthetics more than once results. The lead cut, the instrumental Tierra Colorado by accordion master Chango Spasiuk, is a pretty bouncy affair with some lightning riffs and a general sense of upbeatness, hardly noir at all, yet, we are told in the liner notes, the piece intones "seeking redemption crossing the red land". Hm. What I do know is that this is a piece Piazzola would love, socio-political inferences to the side.
Then comes the lush Todo Eso by Seguidores del Son, a folk song with a distinctly cool rhythmic base and rather exuberant in the lead singer's chores, infectious overall. Again, not a hell of a lot of noir here for the non-Spanish-speaking, just damn good music. With no translatory sheet, I've zero idea what the lyrics are telling me, but, by the time we get to Ana Cristina Pozo & Omar Perez's balladic Dejame que te Lleve, the night comes flowing in, and the follower, Conjunto Campesino Cuyaguateje's La Cola de tu Caiman is an unmistakable lament. Then you read the printed snippet from Watcha Clan (who close the CD): "Every day, more information in the local gazette; every day, black spots float on the shore, dark titles, awful pictures, drowned, corpses dead; every day, more and more.", a set-up followed by "Who do they talk about? What is it? Ask White tourist, he doesn't know! Of Course! Come on! Everything happens on the beach", and black irony blent with backlash creeps beneath the skin.
As one Net scribe put it, these are "happy sad musical treasures from Cuba, Argentina, Colombia, New York and both sides of the Mediterranean Sea…[and pay] a gloomy homage to a new generation of the wretched of the earth and their Sisyphean journeys between shipwreck and redemption, despair and hope". Estudiantina Invasora captures that perfectly in Commandante Che Guevara, and thus it might well enrich the listening experience if one also watches the Criterion edition of Che, a 3-disc extravaganza that atmospherically captures the plight of lands caught within the history of the bedevilments of world capitalism abetted by each area's own framework and past. Paired up with Latin Noir, the entire picture swims into view, and it's a sobering experience. That, I think, is the extended meaning of this excellent disc.
And, hey, progrock aficionados, catch the pianoriental solo in Oh! Ma Belle: exhilarating and spooky simultaneously, like something Goblin would've done for a Dario Argento flick.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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