Last week I stumbled upon an album. An album that was supposed to have been made some 14 years ago. In its stead Buena Vista Social Club was born resulting in a decade of solo albums, a grammy, and eight million copies. The original intention of fusing Cuban and African tunes was delayed due to visa delays and after much anticipation (and I’m sure regret and disappointment for not having done this in the first place), AfroCubism was born. Released this month and the center of a whirlwind of media attention and international touring, prominent and painstakingly talented players from both worlds have joined and made a most tearfully good album.
While listening to this album I didn’t associated AfroCubism with AfroCuban. I actually forgot that afrocuban existed as a genre. I drooled over the prospect of listening to Eliades Ochoa’s husky voice and country strumming alongside Toumani Diabate’s angelic kora and Bassekou Kouyate’s ngoni and Kasse Diabete’s tickling vibrational voice. Listening to it for the first time I was greeted with the familiarity found in listening to BVSC and the African’s instrumental masterpieces. It always brought about a sense of comfort, calm, depth, soulful & heartfelt eagerness, and genuine beat-to-the-heart jamming. Listening to any individual player’s albums over the last couple years I’ve learned plenty about my own preferences in music and how it completely reflects my mood or sentiment at any given moment. Whenever I listen to these guys my mind is at ease, it’s at peace.
AfroCubism mindbogglingly fuses the two worlds together, who’ve been of much influence to each other for decades and every other song is focuses on some regional or historical classic. The most moving song for me is Al Vaiven de Mi Carreta, a typical guajira with soulful & earnest voiceovers and a mix of instruments from both cultures. It’s so damn fucking good. How Ochoa’s words lingers for a few more seconds than perhaps intended gives me goosebumps, then only to be followed by Kasse Mady Diabete’s singing with that same lingering is divine. And reading the lyrics, a simple one about the suffering of farmers, gets me overtly pathetically sensitive and makes me tear.
Also of note is the album design. The crude singular drawings with the color scheme and jarring geometric cuts are modernism all over again. I’m attaching the pdf here so you can save and admire. There’s plenty information about each song as well. I highly recommend you put these songs in your ear as soon as possible and tell me you love it too.