The children go to the west
For those of us who listen, the best thing that can happen in music is discovery. The moment when a subject, an artist, is revealed to us for the first time is usually recorded in us; or when a group connects with something essential in us. However, these discoveries depend, above all, on our willingness to let in, the moment of search, pause or need in which we find ourselves. I don't know what state of mind I was in on Saturday night, December 19, but judging by the world that surrounds me today, domestic and universal, surely uncomfortable even with the theater seat.
I met the powerful voice of Frank Mitchel two years ago at Longina, one of the most interesting festivals of Cuban song today, an incredible space in a living city. When evening fell on the Armored Train, I heard him play songs by Santiago Feliú, Charly García and Spinetta, with that 70s rocker aura and a slightly nostalgic and irreverent troubadour voice. Something was there. Of his group Reflection of the stone in the water he only had references and some slight idea of the proposal that he and Abel Lescay were working on. Nothing else.
And since one always classifies and delivers labels as if life and art were the corridor of a library, I assumed that on Saturday I would attend a trova concert, but Reflection of the stone in the water is not trova. It is song and rock and roll.
The show, in the Theater Room of the National Museum of Fine Arts, was the launch / recording / filming of his first album made with the support of the creation grant El Reino de este mundo granted by the Hermanos Saíz Association. The group, made up of Frank Mitchel in the authorship, guitar and voice and Abel Lescay in the musical direction, piano and keyboards, was accompanied by Joel Alejandro del Río on bass, Henry Ferrán on drums and Iran Farías (El Menor) as a guest on percussion. The album, for its part, takes the name of one of the songs included: At the foot of the tree, and dialogues from beginning to end with the group's image: a mirror in which they are reflected, a stone that receives the constant force of the water, the natural world being the main inspiration for their music and the river pushing them to flow.
They bring very clear influences from Argentine rock and the new Cuban trova, especially from Spinetta and Santiago. They are there in their training, along with many other references in a very unique, interesting mix with a lot of potential. There are elements in his proposal that come from classical music, jazz, progressive rock, the symphonic and the use of more traditional instruments such as tumbadoras and acoustic guitar.
Reflejo… defends a subgenre of rock that they call organic, and which they have defined in an interview with Cecilia Garcés for El Caimán Barbudo as “an interpretation of natural signs and forms through music” that, at the same time, comes from the song with the strong energy of rock. "However, ours does not pretend to be rebellious and break with the norms of society, but to communion with the forces of the universe." And here I, as a person who listens at the foot of the tree, I disagree. There is a renewing force that bursts into all his songs, as well as the rebellious energy of being old and living on this island, and loading his loves and heartbreaks in the root information.
Although the starting point of the band is not the destructive confrontation of the status quo as it usually happens in rock, it is the trip back to the seed, the nostalgic irruption that does not immobilize, to recognize part of ourselves. To stand in this place today, with the awareness that these musicians do it, is a very rock act.
Las letras de Frank Mitchel son poemas en sí, la imagen y la escena de lo natural que empatiza con nuestras subjetividades, la premonición de la tormenta: “árbol acaso no he nacido o apenas sobrevivo a tu soledad” (Al pie del árbol); “Este delirio es un pesar tan alto (…). Busco en la lágrima del tiempo que es la lágrima del pez que ha muerto / heridas desde la raíz” (Sentir distópico); “Que no sepa el río que estoy llorando / he perdido el rumbo y está lloviendo / una flor voló / y este es mi lamento” (Canto cósmico). De esta manera se suma a quienes hacen de la canción un ejercicio literario. A estas palabras les da cuerpo musical Abel Lescay sacándole al piano y los teclados muchos mundos, más que sonido: la atmósfera y la creación de una forma de sentir.
The two go on stage for the first time. Shyness of hands that tremble when putting on the guitar strap or clinging to the piano chair, and then letting themselves flow in music and voice. His image is sustained in a time difficult to catalog: the long, loose hairs, the simplicity, the lack of protocol, necessary? The trust with the listening public. In essence, happy to share and respectful of the meeting.
Ellos integran la llamada Liga sub20 de la trova cubana, pero ¿podrían ser parte de una necesaria renovación del rock nacional? ¿De la canción? Todo esto que se refleja en ellos, ¿crecerá? Me gustaría tener la certeza de que van a encontrar el público que merecen, los escenarios que necesitan. Les queda muchísimo camino, mucho experimento, los ires and venires de los que seremos testigos.
Hoy, Reflejo de la piedra en el agua promete ir allá donde se pone el sol, a la izquierda de la Rosa de los vientos. Ya amanecerá en algún lugar junto a un río y, para entonces, no serán solo los niños que cantan la nana que da título a esta reseña y cierra este álbum-concierto que nos regalan/regalaron al pie del árbol.