Sounds of Summer: Imaginary Cuba
I’m going to posit here that there have to be at least two kinds of summertime music. There’s the kind that smells like Hawaiian Tropic and alcohol and feels like hot wind in a car window. It sounds loud and beautiful like youth, and is the perfect doppelganger to holiday music, that other music hanging around that other solstice six months prior. I bet it’s the first pop music many of us ever loved.
This little blog is about a different kind of summertime music. It feels like a fever and sounds like a hallucination, and it’s the perfect compliment to the way this overheated apartment feels right now. We’re on the top floor of our building, face south, can’t fire-escape-fire-code-blah-blah put AC in half our apartment, and we’re pretty much melting. (And not just us: we, like idiots, went to do some baking for a friend the other week, and this is what we saw when we opened a bag of chocolate chips.) So, like I said, it’s hot.
Bill Laswell’s Imaginary Cuba is most definitely not the sound of surfer girls and Tastee Freez. It’s maybe more like a malarial episode, except that it’s absolutely awesome, and I understand that malaria is not. The record is a mashup of all sorts of music and sound, flowing oddly and effortlessly from Cuban son and Santeria, to recordings of street noise or café clamor, to heavy dub drum and bass, back to some folk song, and all the while tripping along ambient beds of sound, echo, heat…. It’s a true feverdream, a record that drips down the walls and pools on the floor, and it’s one of the most evocative, transporting things I’ve ever heard.
If you’re lying down as I was earlier, semi-conscious and watching the ceiling fan turn, find this album (a couple sample tracks appear below) — stream it, buy it, put it on. You may wake on soaked sheets, with the sound of the ocean, or the street below, or the neighbor’s music, floating in past the curtain in the window. You might then just pour yourself a glass of cold water, turn on the radio, and cross your fingers for some Beach Boys or Rihanna.