1001 Albums: Palo Congo




Artist: Sabu Martinez

Album: Palo Congo

Year: 1957

Length: 44:48



“Buenna Noche Buenna Noche
Kein Kein ko Mar

Buenna Noche Buenna Noche
Kein Kein ko Mar”

And now for something completely different… sort of, technically it’s still Latin Jazz but sounds nothing like the jazz I’ve been hearing or even like any of the other albums. Hence, now for something completely different.

I’m happy they put world music on this list, so we’re not limited to just north american/british music that we’re oh so familiar with. We get out of the countries we already know very well and get a completely different flavour to tickle our earbuds (get it, instead of taste buds? No?).

Well, tickle it did because it was a much needed change from what I was already hearing, from trumpets and pianos to bongos and latin vibes. These guys really know how to whack away at the bongos, some of the songs practically become a bongo solo instrumental, which that in itself is interesting to hear. Honestly, I really got excited when the bongos kicked in from the beginning (I think I say that I get excited a lot, I really need to find something else to say). I’ve always been impressed by people who can play the bongos really well and make it sound very good, I’m sure there’s much more to it than just hitting the drum repeatedly and if you listen to this album, you can defintiely hear how a good mix of bongos can sound really good.

Actually, a funny thing about the bongos, especially when they’re thumping really loudly and repeatedly, it really builds up tension. I felt tense, really tense, especially at those intense bongo whacking moments and it was perfectly timed because those moments came up when I was running away from a snow plow and it really added to the intensity of it. Ok, that’s not that intense, but the songs sure made it intense. Felt like mowgli running away from Shere Khan through the jungles (proper analogy? no idea). I might be wrong but that’s how the music made me feel as I rushed down my street avoiding those snow plows.

And I think that’s really what made me love this album, was the Latin American feel to it. I remember February of 2015, my parents and I went to Punta Cana and I could swear I danced to a song similar to the ones on this album in a dance competition. Was pretty simple, a bunch of us were chosen to go up on stage and imitate one of the resort workers in some latin dancing. My turn came up and… well, I danced alright, danced well enough that I won the competition and got a bottle of Dominican Rhum as my prize (which is still unopened in my house). Music like this cheers me up, brings back good memories and just makes you want to dance. And not in the way that dance music does, this makes you want to tap your feet and swing your hips like a sensual latin lover. I’m sure that’s what they do in those Latin clubs… do they? Is that even a thing? probably not… but it’d be really funny seeing a ton of guys in one room dancing to themselves in a salsa fashion. I know I would, I did, right there in the metro. That’s how stimulating this music is. You might not be a sensual latino lover, but when you listen to this you certainly as hell become one (or at least you think you do… shit).

I’m a bit torn about one thing though, a lot of the songs get very repetitive. I mean, they repeat themselves a lot, whether lyrically or musically in the song, it starts to feel loooong. Most of the songs felt much longer than they really were. I thought I was listening to a particular song for about ten minutes but checked to find out it was only four minutes long. But here’s the thing… it didn’t bother me, sure it got repetitive, but part of me was loving that. The parts that were repetitive were the parts I wanted to listen to over and over, that I kept waiting for them to say again. It’s like they picked the perfect parts to keep repeating (at least for me, for all I know you might be completely annoyed and hate it, tough shit I didn’t). I think this is a perfect example of where repetition is not a bad thing, actually it might be a good thing! The main idea is to have the music take over you and let you feel it out and dance to it, by being repetitive it gets you into a groove and makes you not want to stop. At least, that’s what it did to me.

To add to that, I really wish I knew what they were saying because I had no idea what was being sung at all (really helps to know the language, but that’s the joy of world music… can’t understand a word that is said, but you love it anyway).

I do warn you though, if you are going to listen to this, I suggest you have both your speakers working because this is one of those albums. You know what I mean. One speaker is out and you miss half off the album type of album, especially with a lot of the back and forths happening from the left to the right. Seriously, make sure both speakers work, it’ll make a world of difference.

Song of Choice: Billumba-Palo Congo


Photoshop Credit: Julian Branco




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