Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Digging: Malón-Juan Carlos Cáceres (Philips, 1968)

I bought this one recently at an auction on ebay and it instantly became one of the most precious pieces of my vinyl collection. Being a very hard-to-find album, as far as I know never released in CD, I had it for a while as a bootleg MP3 and I loved it, as I love almost all Cáceres discography, but this was one that I needed to have in vinyl.
Juan Carlos Cáceres is a mythological figure in Argentine music, but one that's almost completely unknown. In the 60's he was part of the first wave of rock en español, but left the country without leaving behind any recording (that I know of) and in May 1968 (quite significant date) he moved to Paris, France. There he started this project called Malón (not related to the heavy metal band that used the same name in the 90's) with some French musicians and another Argie expat, Miguel Abuelo (known amongst Latin American rock fans as the leader of Los Abuelos De La Nada, during the 80's).
But Malón had very little to do with rock and that's why I find this project so interesting. Malón was about experimenting with the African roots in Latin music, something that has been a constant during Cáceres extensive career. Like I said my previous post, Argentinians are not very comfortable with the African connection that has been consistently officially denied but it's quite palpable in many aspects of their culture. This has been intriguing Cáceres for a while and Malón's debut album is the first of his explorations into that vastly uncharted territory.
Compared to his later work, maybe this first step of his exploration didn't go very deep into history, but is still quite interesting. Especially from a DJ point of view because the dominant sound of this album could be labeled as Latin Soul, in the sense of contemporary works like Ray Barreto's Acid, but with connections to South American Afro rhythms like candombe. I know there are tons of DJ's, sampling artists and record collectors, avid readers of Waxpoetics, out there who go nuts for this kind of music and would love to give this record a spin. There's also a 7 inch single available somewhere with the two singles, "El Camino" and "Dale Negro," and man, if I had the money to throw away, I'd buy too.
After a couple of albums with Malón, Cáceres abandoned Latin Soul to do what's the most profitable for all Argentine musicians living in France: play tango. But during his tango journey he also started digging into the very much unknown Afro-Argentine roots of tango (before it was whitened for European consumption). As a result of this, in recent years Cáceres became known as something like an ambassador of tango's blackness. Mostly thanks to his latest two impeccable albums Murga Argentina and Utopía, where he explores the connection between murga (more on this in my previous post) and tango.
Cáceres recent work is available online (itunes, emusic, amazon...) released by Mañana Music, the record label of an other Argie expat living in France, Eduardo Makaroff of Gotan Project. But like I said before, his early work with Malón is unfortunately unavailable, except for bootlegged versions posted by fellow bloggers. I'd rip it into MP3 myself to share it with you but it's too much work and I don't trust the sound quality of my rips would make justice to this great record, so you can google it yourself. Here's a sample of its sound.

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