Ancestros. Diseño: Jennifer Ancízar / Magazine AM:PM.
Ancestros. Diseño: Jennifer Ancízar / Magazine AM:PM.

The Scratched Record: Ancestros

7 minutes / Carlos M. Mérida

03.11.2020 / Worn-out record,  Reviews

What has to happen in the trot of history for two voices like those of Ele Valdés and Carlos Alfonso to come together? What equivalences, what numerators and denominators must be canceled to leave them face to face? I would like to know in what conditions they met, what came out that day in the ball, what was the closest leap year to that year. And to know, in addition, what exact temperature and what percentage of relative humidity was when, later, and presumably in complicity with Lucía Huergo, they decided, first, to place the batá under the keyboards, and then, when one became familiar with it. electronic bell, disconnect the camp and leave the leather and the voices alone, as it was at the beginning of everything.

I'm going to talk about Síntesis, as you can see. I'm going to get into this pothole of calling red to red again and cute to cute. Because I want to get in. Because I am glad of the substance of just thinking about this album. Because I'm walking to the bookshelf, imagining the intro of Asoyin and what Lázaro Ros does in Titi-Laye at the end, and I'm already broken.

It had to be because of X Alfonso that I approached him, at the time when he seemed to me to be the guy with the most swing in western Cuba, with his pintaca and his tattoos and his videos. The boarding was still slow. I looked at Diana Fuentes's legs before than Esteban Puebla's hands. But one day, listening to the final segment of Oduddua, the penultimate cut of this album, without understanding a word of what Carlos was singing and chanting the band, still without knowing what the hell “Oduddua” was, I bent over seriously, catharsis roll. Snot, bad words, grin. So it has been. So is. It happens to me every time I listen to this first volume of Ancestros (alone, because in public I keep the form). It happened to me last night, watching the DVD of the concert for the 40 years of the band (Síntesis 4 Décadas, Unicornio, 2019), before I went to sleep with Opatereo in my head and dream of Eme Alfonso. Now I am 30, and I do not know what will happen, what I will listen to, or what I will like later, but my tract of neighborhoods and strangeness, my life, has been given in a variant that allows me to say - I am afraid of exaggerating and repeating it when I talk about other people and other music— that at the height of this scratched record, there are few things that do to me what Síntesis does to me. It is the body that happens to me. Without grinding wheel. The throat, eyes, nose, and back of the neck feel it.

Tuvo que ser por causa de X Alfonso que me acerqué, en la época en que me parecía el tipo con más swing del occidente cubano, con su pintaca y sus tatuajes y sus videos. Igual el abordaje fue lento. Miraba antes las piernas de Diana Fuentes que las manos de Esteban Puebla. Pero un día, oyendo el segmento final de Oduddua, penúltimo corte de este álbum, sin entender una palabra de lo que cantaba Carlos y coreaba la banda, aún sin saber qué coño era “Oduddua”, me doblé serio, rollo catarsis. Mocos, malas palabras, rictus. Así ha sido. Así es. Me ocurre cada vez que escucho este primer volumen de Ancestros (en soledad, porque en público guardo la forma). Me ocurrió anoche, viendo el DVD del concierto por los 40 años de la banda (Síntesis 4 Décadas, Unicornio, 2019), antes de irme a dormir con Opatereo en la cabeza y soñar con Eme Alfonso. Ahora tengo 30, y no sé qué pasará, qué escucharé, o qué me gustará después, pero mi tracto de cercanías y extrañezas, mi vida, se ha dado en una variante que me deja decir —temiendo exagerar y repetirlo cuando hable de otra gente y otra música— que a la altura de este disco rayado, hay poquitas cosas que me hacen lo que me hace Síntesis. Es del cuerpo lo que me pasa. Sin muela. Se lo sienten la garganta, los ojos, la nariz y la nuca.

One of Carlos's most beautiful attributes as a singer is his earthly form, his tenuous vices. Look at that final stretch of Oduddua, how you can tell that his ass is tight, his abdomen is close to his back, his eyes are closed and his carotid is smooth. Or in Opatereo, how his voice has a microscopic lag, as if the bus of time was going to go away, as if he were traveling hanging from it on linear skates and not sitting inside. He knows it, but he likes it that way, he prefers civilian, carnal. It does not happen in the same way, for example, with Ele, and much less with his teacher Lázaro Ros. Lazaro's is not a voice of this world, it does not belong to him or to himself. Ele's is from here, which unlike Carlos, she is more conservative in management, does not show the scar, takes less risks; it will have flaws, I suppose, but only she knows them. In any case, if a gangster puts a gun to my head and forces me to tell him which is the most beautiful Cuban male voice, between ignorance, nerves and a bad memory, only one or two will occur to me. names before Carlos Alfonso.

Lucía and Carlos did it well when orchestrating this plaque. Synthesis (at least this one, which is the one I like the most) is an organism that speaks through the choirs and Carlos's voice, is sustained by the skeleton of the batá, but breathes through the keyboards. After all, that's one of the main reasons that have placed Ancestros (Art Color, 1987) in the masterpiece category since it came out. All the tracks loosen at least one historic keyboard segment, the winner of oblivion; either as a riff (Eyeleo, Oduddua), as a jazz-theme (Baba, Mereguo), or simply as a vignette, as a watermark, as in the first 12 seconds of Opatereo, which in terms of functionality are in the The same place as the first bars of the famous Baba O'Riley, from The Who, although Synthesis is much richer, because it has that little shell behind it. Perhaps the least memorable passages of the instrument later are those of Titi-Laye and Asoyin. In the first case because it is very difficult to attend to something other than the voices, and in the other because their participation is more choral.

Se pasaron Lucía y Carlos al orquestar esta placa. Síntesis (al menos este, que es el que más me gusta) es un organismo que habla por los coros y la voz de Carlos, se sostiene en la osamenta del batá, pero respira por los teclados. Después de todo, esa es una de las principales razones que han colocado a Ancestros (Art Color, 1987) en la categoría de obra maestra desde que salió. Todos los tracks aflojan al menos un segmento de teclados histórico, vencedor de olvidos; ya sea a modo de riff (Eyeleo, Oduddua), de tema-jazz (Baba, Mereguo), o simplemente de viñeta, de marca de agua, como ocurre en los 12 primeros segundos de Opatereo, que en términos de funcionalidad están en el mismo sitio que los primeros compases de la célebre Baba O’Riley, de The Who, aunque lo de Síntesis es mucho más rico, porque tiene esa cascarita detrás. Tal vez los pasajes del instrumento menos recordables luego sean los de Titi-Laye and Asoyin. En el primer caso porque es muy difícil atender a otra cosa que no sean las voces, y en el otro porque su participación es más coral.

I am in fifth grade. The Music Education teacher teaches Singing to Ebioso. She is also the teacher of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. She has no face of having listened to Síntesis or of having never been to a bembé. It's on the show. I haven't done it either, neither. I learn the song. Lucia Huergo is alive. Almost 20 years later, Síntesis opens a concert with the same song. Lucia Huergo is dead. Carlos Alfonso, Ele Valdés, Fidel García and José Bustillo are alive. Between the Musical Education class and the concert, in thousands of houses in Cuba (and who knows where else) the Song has been sung. Many people who have done it have never heard Synthesis. In none of the houses is it sung or played as in the 1987 album Ancestros.

Carlos M. Mérida

Oidor. Coleccionista sin espacio. Leguleyo. Temeroso de las abejas y de los vientos huracanados.

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