The Scratched Record: Medium Slow
I think the first time I saw Ariel Barreiros was on November 30, 2007, in the Park of J and 23; Although if they tell me no, that it can't be, that day Ariel couldn't get out of Aguada de Pasajeros for whatever reason, I think so too, but you guys follow the rhyme. It was Friday, and the Nueva Trova movement - they said - was turning 35 years old. The day before I had turned 18, I had entered university three months ago and, a few days before, in the lobby of the Alamar scholarship, my friend from Miami had given me his Discman for a moment, so that I could listen to Girl, from a troubadour Unknown from Cienfuegos. lobby de la beca de Alamar, mi amigo de Miami me había pasado su Discman un momento, para que escuchara Girl, de un trovador cienfueguero desconocido.
The Hermanos Saíz Association, to celebrate the anniversary, had organized ―in the usual places― the usual things: workshops, colloquia and more of the kind of buzz we hear every time serious people get together to talk seriously about something; book sales, concerts, everything about the trova. I was walking along La Rampa that didn't fit, very happy, making my adult debut, walking with the happiness and rapture of a child who still believes in "important" things, in the places and times where one "should" be. The same thing went into the Cuba Pavilion and copied into a borrowed memory the discography (or whatever those folders were) of guys like Pável Poveda, who would sit in the Yara's portal to listen to Gerardo Alfonso presenting his album A orillas del mar, el which I then bought for 40 pesos ―forgetting that next week I would not have enough to smoke―, that I would arrive at the statue of Don Quixote naked to hear and see for the first time people that I later heard and saw a lot, and another that I did not see or hear more because I decided so, or because I could no longer do it.
That day Adrián Berazaín and Mauricio Figueiral were considered “alternative”, Oscar Sánchez had more hair, Yaima wore it short, Silvio Alejandro did not wear his own pullovers, Ray did not debut his Tun Tun club, Fidelito was as out of tune as now, and I knew that Ariel Barreiros was a different troubadour, and that I would love him forever. Don't ask me what he sang that afternoon. I do not remember. I just knew, even though, knowingly, I commented to someone next door that the Aguadense looked too much like Pedro Guerra ―even physically―, and that someone next door nodded, ignoring that I had seen Pedro Guerra seen once in profile, and had heard, at most, three songs of his.
The memory I have of that afternoon is a completely healthy memory, nothing can taint me anymore. Tomorrow a friend from those years may come and say that I got up at noon with lazy knees from a hangover, that I vomited on the P11 towards El Vedado and that every so often I had to leave the concert to ask, please, for a glass of water in a nearby house or cafeteria, it did not matter if it was from the tap or it was hot. It would be the same. Those accidents are no longer part of the memory. In any case they could create one from scratch, but not decorate the one that already exists. To this, for some reason, the memory decided to archive it as well as from afar, as an impressionist painting.
After that day I listened to the author of Paula one more time, doing machine time on my friend's Discman from Miami. It was that demo that is out there, that begins with Overshoot. They weren't many times. It seems to me that I didn't even get to hear the full demo. I do remember María, the song that Ariel composed to see, from the stage, how half of the audience loses its skin and the other bursts into tears when he sings: “Look, what a carnival or carnival! / If you don't get drunk with me ”. Then my friend from Miami left and among the compact discs that he left me was not the one that contained that union of amateur recordings. I lost track of the Cienfuegos man. Except once on a radio show, and not counting the ones I sang Girl in the parks, I never heard it again. It became one of those things that you want but don't look for, because you really don't really know how much you want, until you find it. I met Ariel Barreiros again on the Slow Medium album, and I don't release it anymore.
After having listened to the album in vertical, horizontal, diagonal, length, width and depth; after crying and wanting to go hug Ariel and hold her head with both hands and say "I'm dying", asking me a thousand times why a guy like that decides to stay in that shitty town, in a country where places like Aguada de Pasajeros are even more town and shitty; I can't say that I like the way I like the songs it contains, and it's the fault of the arrangements, which in some cases aren't up to the task. A slight laziness of the arranger is felt when interpreting the substance of the songs, and transferring it from the trovera guitar to the orchestra.
Those cases are, mainly, Girl, Slow Medium, María and Ágape. It annoys me a lot, because they are the ones I like the most, especially the one that titled the album, which is the one with the worst luck outside of Ariel, sometimes because of Egrem, sometimes because of Kamankola, who owns a incredible voice and stage attitude to say "This is Cuba, damn it and self-employment", but fatal to "What happens is that I did not think windows to your kiss." The Slow Medium arrangement puts the trombone first and then the bandoneon (or perhaps the obnoxious electric version of their sound) chasing Ariel's voice as if they thought it wasn't emotional enough. The time comes when you want them to shut up and let the poor man sing. The same happens with María with the flute, who participates, as if she were the advantageous and pedantic monitor, sitting without much to do in the review of the brutes, waiting until her mother comes to pick her up.
Otra cosa: se tiende demasiado al son y a la pachanga en varios momentos del fonograma. En María and Brujería bien. Claro. Son temas que lo piden. Pero, bróder, ¿en Girl? El chiquillo protagonista de esa canción está solo, llorando, acostado de canto sobre la cama con los pies encogidos, ¿por qué me le pones una maraca en cada mano, y lo subes a cantar con el conjuntico del pueblo en el matutino de la primaria? En Ágape parecido. A las primeras estrofas les han encasquetado una marcha de bolero plana y aburrida, que está lejos de alcanzar la rajadura sísmica que se produce en la cabeza del oyente cuando llega la parte de “(…) ni estas asmas que me entran cuando tú te me espantas, corazón, rumbo a mujer que ya no estuvo más en la ventana”. No sé a ustedes, pero a mí me sobra el bongó para decir lo que dice este tema. ¡Ojo! que no pasa nada con el bongó y el bolero. En Paula, por ejemplo, traducen muy bien el susurro y la noche fresca de campo que hay en el centro de esa hermosísima pieza, pero en Ágape no le dan al tema el puntico de duda y desconcierto que pide. Fíjense que cuando sube la intensidad el arreglo tiene que soltar el bolero y agarrar un palo menos liso, pa’ ver si la audiencia deja de bostezar.
Another thing: it tends too much to the son and the pachanga at various moments of the phonogram. In Maria and Witchcraft well. Clear. They are topics that ask for it. But, broder, in Girl? The boy protagonist of that song is alone, crying, lying on edge on the bed with his feet hunched, why do you put a maraca in each hand, and go upstairs to sing with the village ensemble in the morning of elementary school ? In Agape similar. The first stanzas have been encasquedas a flat and boring bolero march, which is far from reaching the seismic crack that occurs in the head of the listener when the part of “(…) nor these asthma that enter me when you you scare, heart, heading to a woman who was no longer at the window. I don't know about you, but I have plenty of bongo to say what this song says. eye! that nothing happens with the bongo and the bolero. In Paula, for example, they translate very well the whispering and cool country night in the center of that beautiful piece, but in Agape they don't give the subject the point of doubt and confusion that it asks for. Note that when the intensity rises, the arrangement has to drop the bolero and grab a less smooth stick, to see if the audience stops yawning.
Don't be guided by my complaints about an annoyed groupie. None of this detracts from the kind of jewel that the album is, and just for grouping 12 of the most beautiful songs that life has in store for you. Ariel Barreiros - no one doubts it, but I'll say it anyway - is in another league. Few are at their level, and everyone knows who they are; but nobody, absolutely nobody, is more good, nor more tender.
La última vez lo vi en enero de este año, durante el Festival Longina, invitado por Roly Berrío a su peña del patio del Museo de Artes Decorativas de Santa Clara. Ya era de noche. La gente le pedía Girl y él se hacía un poco el duro. Antes de cantarla ―no él, todo el mundo, porque esa canción hace rato ya que no la canta nadie solo― dijo algo en broma sobre el chasco que se llevaría quien viese a la niña ahora, y el público rio, pero nadie creyó una palabra, porque las niñas nuestras no crecieron; las niñas nuestras siguen allí tan lindas como siempre, en
Carlos M. Mérida
Oidor. Coleccionista sin espacio. Leguleyo. Temeroso de las abejas y de los vientos huracanados.