200

Bill Laswell and Sacred System: Imaginary Cuba: Deconstructing Havana

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Bill Laswell and Sacred System: Imaginary Cuba: Deconstructing Havana This is “piecemeal” music, spliced together in a studio by Bill Laswell to present a sound–picture of modern–day Havana, Cuba. It’s world music, not Jazz, and how well the enterprise succeeds is, we presume, in the ear of the beholder. Laswell has been called (by Billboard magazine) “way ahead of his time.” He may be well ahead of mine too. Laswell painted his Cuban portrait by organizing a series of location recordings in the studios, streets and back rooms of Havana, then using the tapes as a basis for state–of–the–art multi–track mixing and mastering — a method, we are told, that won him wide praise for such earlier endeavors as Apocalypse Across the Sky by the Master Musicians of Jajouka and Night Spirit Masters by the Gnawa Musicians of Marrakesh. If you’ve heard either of them you’ll have an idea of what to expect from Imaginary Cuba. As the Latin motif predominates, it’s rather surprising to hear the brief track 3, which consists of the standard “Stars Fell on Alabama” played on piano. A change of pace? Definitely. But hardly out of place, as Cuban pianists do play American popular songs as well as their own (or did before the advent of Castro). In sum, what we hear is a series of musical vignettes that may (or may not) evoke the spirit of Havana (we’ve never been there) but don’t hang together seamlessly. The common denominator, if indeed there is one, lies in the ever–present and always–captivating Latin rhythms, which must carry the day, as melody and harmony are in rather short supply. Recommended to those with an adventurous disposition who appreciate music that forswears the beaten path.

Track listing: Habana Transmission #1: Avisale a la Vecina; Para Clave Guagunaco; Loungin’ with F.E.; Chacón and Daniel; Déjala en la Puntica; Habana Transmission #2: Cuban Evolution; Los Ibellis; Habana Transmission #3: Shango Sound Scan; Hombre Lobo, No! Hombre Nuevo, Si!; Guerrillero Heróico; Shanga; Pompa at the House; Madre no me Pida; Chaos in the Heat (Last Transmission); Drafting Shadows/Leaving la Habana (57:17).


Personnel:

unlisted.

Title: Imaginary Cuba: Deconstructing Havana | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Wicklow


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Screen Sounds CD/LP/Track Review Screen Sounds
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Rediscovered Ellington CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 20, 2017
Read The Bug CD/LP/Track Review The Bug
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Sing Me Some Cry CD/LP/Track Review Sing Me Some Cry
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Masters In Bordeaux CD/LP/Track Review Masters In Bordeaux
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 19, 2017
Read On Parade In Parede CD/LP/Track Review On Parade In Parede
by John Sharpe
Published: August 19, 2017
Read "Blues I Felt" CD/LP/Track Review Blues I Felt
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 15, 2017
Read "My Tongue Crumbles After" CD/LP/Track Review My Tongue Crumbles After
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 1, 2017
Read "Metal Na Madeira" CD/LP/Track Review Metal Na Madeira
by Jim Trageser
Published: January 6, 2017
Read "Life on the Edge" CD/LP/Track Review Life on the Edge
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 13, 2017
Read "First Set" CD/LP/Track Review First Set
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 29, 2016
Read "Apocalypse" CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.