So I had been making a list back in November to culminate my favorites of 2009, and after it was already February of the next year I kind of gave up. I regularly post stuff I like that is congruent to the year it comes out, so what’s the point? When a magazine decides to start paying me I’ll start making lists, but it’s been years since I’ve made any nerdy “favorite albums ever” lists, and to be honest I find them totally fucking pointless. I flaunt my taste enough on this here website. That said, maybe I’ll post some entries from that list, starting with this one.
Alan Lomax in Haiti 1935-1936 Box Set (Harte Recordings)
Alan Lomax spent a year in Haiti documenting the sounds of the island while him and his wife were on their honeymoon in the 1930s. Now, I don’t know if it’s standard practice to make field recordings while on a romantic getaway, but the time not spent between the sheets was put to good use, providing us with a pretty amazing collection of music from the western half of Hispaniola. These were made after the U.S. occupancy of almost twenty years, but before the Duvalier family took over which maybe provided a bit of a comfort zone to break out the microphones and the Bolex. A nice overview of Haiti in the moment that might be difficult to hear given the countries current situation. Very early Merengue when it was spelled Meringue, great recordings of Carnival, children’s music and a lot more than I’m still making my way through. The packaging (yes, packaging!) is absolutely gorgeous, up there with the Albert Ayler box in terms of liner notes and all the fun extras. Maps, Lomax’s field notebook, and film footage accompany over 10 hours of music. If you only hear one disc, I’d recommend Rara: Vodou in Motion which might be the one that rings truest today.