Thursday, 21 March 2013

Havana Mood

This set contains a classic version of recordings of son and boleros with The Septeto Nacional, Raoul Plana and Tata Guinès; it is the 'Straight Master' recorded at the Egrem studio in Cuba. The second disc called 'Rhum & Bass' is as implied by it's name an attempt at another treatment of this style of music: in Orange, New Jersey, we have attempted to produce a cuban dub.
Jean Touitou • Bill Laswell
January 1999

One can't quite overcome suspicions of "hopping on the bandwagon" when first encountering Havana Mood Hot on the heels of Ry Cooder's universally acclaimed Buena Vista Social Club project, Bill Laswell and Jean Touitou grab a flight down to Cuba and record their own group of grizzled, ancient legends. The discomfort comes from finding Laswell in the wake rather than in the vanguard of an idea; one wonders whether commercial considerations weighed more heavily than artistic or archivist ones in the planning of this project.

Not being privvy to the inner workings of the producers' minds, let it be understood that this is nonetheless a really fine set. The smoky ambience of the sixty-year-old Septeto Nacional and friends recorded here is a milestone of Afro-Caribbean culture. While only a novice in the genre, I have learned that these men were among the players to first develop the "son" sound in Cuba as well as apparently being the first to use the term "salsa" in a song title. On top of these impeccable historical credentials, their mature voices - deep and dark as polished mahogany - and virtuoso playing really swing, and the seduction of the listener is complete.

Furthermore, Laswell's and Touitou's package goes a step further than the Cooder project. While the first CD is a "straight", untweaked session documenting these seasoned players going flat out and featuring plenty of vocals both male and female, the second CD is a dub translation, very much in the spirit of Boniche Dub; once again Bill seems to share the dubbing duties with Jean. In common with that record, this attempt at creating "Rhum and Bass" dub seems a tad unfocused at times, but definitely holds a certain fascination. An interesting project housed in APC's finest package yet.
Stephen Fruitman

Disc one • Straight Master (Original)
1. Cien Fuegos
2. Mil Congojas
3. No Tieme Telerana
4. Lagrimas Negras
5. Rhytm Impro
6. Yo Soy Como Candela
7. Descarga Para Gozarte
8. El Diablo Tun Tun
9. La Mujer Da Antonio
10. El Manisero
11. Al El Vaiven De Mi Carreta

Disc two • Rhum & Bass (Dub)
1. Rhytm Impro Dub
2. La Mujer De Antonio Dub
3. Cuban Beat
4. Mil Congojas Dub
5. La Mujer De Antonio (soundcheck dub)
6. Al El Vaiven De Mi Carreta Dub
7. Yo Soy Como Candela Dub
8. Radio Cuba Version
9. Cien Fuegos Dub

 The Septeto Nacional, Raoul Plana and Tata Guines

Recorded at Egrem Studio, Cuba
Dubs mixed at Orange Music Sound Studio, West Orange, New Jersey
Engineered by Oz Fritz
Produced by Bill Laswell and Jean Touitou

Buy Here

Label: APC ‎– A.P.C.013
Format: 320
Country: France
Released: 1999
Genre: Electronic, Latin
Style: Dub, Cubano 


  1. Hey Stylo,

    I have Imaginary Cuba but I don't remember this one. It looks like MF thinks this is a diffent album and shut down the link. Permission denied!

  2. Will sort it and get back to you, Cheers

    1. Imaginary Cuba was a I believe came about from of these sessions.

    2. if I recall what John Brown was telling me about his trip to Cuba with Bill, yes...same "sessions" in that there was a lot of clandestine recording going on in a number of different locations. Never asked Bill about this particular one though.

  3. Thanks S!

    I pulled out my copy and it is also from 1999. Really looking forward to this. Thank so much!

  4. Dr. Fleegood checkout your query and you are correct try here and obviously you don't need the extra from the 2nd. Hope that helps

  5. Many thanks for uploading the missing tracks!

  6. I am a great fan of Laswell, but I don't know this one. Link doesn't work. any chance of reup?
    Thanks for your great blog!

  7. The link keeps getting pulled, so it's dead for the time being...
    Will be back soon.

  8. Best to change the name to something kryptic! Thanks for your effort, mate!