A Musical Bridge from Cuba*

by Osmel Almaguer

X-Alfonso. Photo: caimanbarbudo.cu

HAVANA TIMES, Sept. 20 — X Alfonso figures among the most talented and versatile young Cuban musicians of today. His work in fusion combines diverse forms such as jazz, pop, rock, electronic music, hip-hop, African bells and any other rhythm that he finds appropriate for a specific song.  A graduate in piano from the School of Music, and later from the National School of Art (ENA), his musical career began with the nationally renowned group “Synthesis,” directed by his parents.

Later he founded the rock group “Havana,” in which he performed as the bassist, vocalist, arranger and composer.  His career continued as a soloist beginning in 1993, giving extremely successful concerts in Havana theaters.  He has composed music for dance companies and musicals, as well as for full-length feature films.  Recently he racked up another success when venturing into the directing of music videos.  As a demonstration of his social consciousness, being an artist whose subjects are marginalization and the critique of human degradation, his music is used in sections of the National Television News (NTV).  He has produced a number of CDs: Mundo Real (2000), X Moré (2001), Delirium Tremens (2002), Civilizacion (2005) and Revoluxion (2007).

ANGELES del CD Revoluxion (2007)

Angels are those mythological beings to which people have attributed the virtues of kindness and innocence. This is the story of a fallen angel:

– He awoke. Running tired / escaping from the sun.  His wings now / didn’t have the energy / to return.  He remained / an angel / lost / wanting to return.

– So he sat down on the ridge of a roof / with his wings folded and his porcelain attire / and he began to see / how the human species was the only one that destroys itself and how its members eliminate each other / and how their cities exist within an absurd oppressive atmosphere of decadence. Your skin becomes perverted for no reason.  So he became frightened.

– He began to cry / lost in the center of a great city.  He was in bad shape / saturated with the world that God / had showed him. He asked for help / but no one / no one / heard him.

– He ran and fell with his wings / dragging his porcelain attire / asking in the middle of traffic but people backed away / they shut their windows / they pushed him and screamed. They tossed him coins / and even sometimes humiliated him / then he began to sing. (Vocalization of lament).

– They thought he was just another wolf. They handcuffed him and locked him up / for a long time. They pulled off his wings / along with his porcelain attire. They pulled his eyes out / they took away his innocence.  He just turned his head up at the sky / and tears swelled up in his eyes.  This was how he spent his time in a far-off jail. Then they let him go.

– There he goes / sleeping in the streets / not knowing who is. The angels / are the vagabonds who are / with him / who know who he is / who hide / their wings / from this world that is so cruel.

– That’s why / we never see them / pass by.

The expressive and extensive lyrics of this song impel me to comment the least possible, only what’s essential.  The idea that moves through this theme from one end to the other is that all of us, at some moment, have been fallen angels, souls that come to us from another dimension. With pure souls, we fall into this world built by the greed of other angels who lost their wings a long time ago, but who adapted.

This is an urban story.  Perhaps it’s about those beings that couldn’t become alienated, that couldn’t adapt to the law of the survival of the fittest.

It is a furious critique of our own hypocrisy, of dreaming daily of idealized beings but not knowing how to see that they’re among us, because we ourselves are those angels.

It is a critique of superficiality, of judging something as being good because of its appearance and condemning what we aren’t familiar with. It is a critique of the humanity that we’ve fashioned, and a warning because it has slipped through our hands.

It’s also a beautiful fable, a song paying homage to those people who many reject: vagabonds.

And coming from X Alfono, the instrumental form of the song could be no other than a modern waltz full of today’s sounds (hip-hop, trip-hop); though it’s rather gloomy, as if flowing through a long metal conduit.

Employing parasitic sounds of technology, distortions are used to recreate the atmosphere of an intermediate world shared by beings from two dimensions. These are appropriate notations to these beautiful lyrics that recycle elements of marginalization.

(*) A Musical Bridge from Cuba: This is an effort to find new bridges that promote communication between peoples of the diverse regions of the planet.  I will be using simple narration in a series of articles to connect with those who are interested in the messages transmitted by Cuban songs, which due to their limited commercial potential and the difficulties posed by their translation, languish in a state of communicational stagnation – despite their being true jewels of Cuban culture.


2 thoughts on “X Alfonso

  • One can find and buy/download X Alfonso’s albums at: emusic.com

  • The symbolism of X Alfonso’s work which you showcase to us here demonstrates, by its (short) example the power of all good music to reveal facets of our social life to us in myriad different and often appealing or even ikonoklastic ways. Certainly, X Alfonso’s piece tells the sad story of the brutalization of human beings by other human beings, under the alienating system of capital accumulation — statist or private. Hopefully he also understands that the promise of socialism (and not in the far distant future, but soon) will allow for the, uh, ‘rectification’ of these twisted and brutal social relations: and then *all* people can at least begin to live to their full potential, and relate to each others as full human subjects — and not as mere objects to be cast aside or disposed of.

    X Alfonso’s music should be made more widely available — i.e. obviously over the Internet.

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