"His voice ... recalls the romantic sound of Juan Luis Guerra combined with the flavor of the Caribbean bolero, the son . . . it is a very beautiful CD that will have many good reviews . . . ." (Marta Gómez)
"It is rare to hear acoustic music that is irresistibly danceable or wild rhythmic workouts that are as satisfying to the ear as to the body, but [Buscaglia's] Balaton provides both, plus some of the sweetest harmonies around." (Elijah Wald, Boston Globe)
This CD by beloved local Puerto Rican artist and performer Gian Carlo Buscaglia evokes the musicality, poetry and political sensibilities of the breadth of the Latin American continent. Drawing from multiple sources of musical inspiration, Buscaglia's original compositions reflect a full spectrum of musical traditions and styles, ranging from the lyrical Puerto Rican bolero of the 1930s to the edgy protest music of Latin America's nueva canción (new song) movement and the muscular dance rhythms of Afro-Caribbean salsa and bomba. Elements of North American swing, salsa, bolero, bomba, guaracha and classical music combine to produce a repertoire that is both strikingly original and astonishing in range. Featuring the explosive "La Caída" (The Fall) and the haunting "El Terror Monte En Aviones" (Terror Travels by Plane), La Caída is deeply moving and musically adventurous. Buscaglia's compelling vocals are backed by a 15-piece band, including Balaton, one of Boston's most accomplished Latin bands, Olga Kouznetsova and her string quartet, and Billy Novick on clarinet. Arranged by Julio Santillán (of Marta Gómez and Los Changos).
Gian Carlo Buscaglia has been performing as a guitarist and vocalist in Boston since the early 1980s, when he joined the street musician scene in Harvard Square, Cambridge. Largely self-taught, he was drawn to the acoustic pop styles popular in Latin America in the first half of the twentieth century. In 1991 Buscaglia co-founded Balaton, a Latin sextet interpreting a range of traditional, acoustic dance music from Puerto Rico and Cuba, in an older style recently introduced to American audiences by the Buena Vista Social Club. Balaton has performed at clubs and festivals throughout New England, opening for Marc Anthony in 1997 and for Eddie Palmieri at the Wang Center. Concurrently from 1990 to 1995, Buscaglia also performed with Los Pleneros del Coco, a sixteen-piece plena and bomba orchestra, on cuatro (a ten-stringed instrument similar to the mandolin) and vocals. A prolific and engaging performer on the local scene, whether solo, in duets, trios, quartets or with a full band, Buscaglia has delighted Boston Latin music fans with his lyricism, style and enthusiasm for twenty years.
With La Caída, his solo debut, Buscaglia reconnects with his first love in Latin music, nueva canción, the Latin American equivalent of the acoustic folk style exemplified by Silvio Rodriguez and Pablo Milanes of Cuba and Victor Jara of Chile. La Caída is politically engaged, smart and deeply poetic.
Serenity, where have you gone to hide?
We have not seen you around here for awhile,
you left one day without looking back
knowing the pain that was to come.
In truth your existence was not long,
in the history of men many will testify
that your life was always interrupted
by the insatiable thirst of evil.
Of course, a serene night of passion,
the caress a lover gives,
falling asleep in the arms of the beloved
will likely come to visit us.
I am not referring to that serenity,
rather to waking up encircled by peace,
not fearing that they will kill hope,
imprison innocence or bludgeon truth.
To sitting in the park to watch the daybreak
not fearing that they will bomb
talking with your friends about this and that
with the serenity that you will not meet your end.
I am sure you will come back some day
and the next day ... you'll go
persecuted by those who offer peace
with bloody hands ... serenity.
Dejala Entrar/Let it in
I have not come to preach
nor to complain about my life,
what has touched my soul
is shared as I sing.
Rationing the heart
or impounding nightmares
was always a feeble business
detached in a spiral.
My life ... will not play
What is sadness good for
if it only brushes past you.
Let it in,
it will go away ... impatient.
To find itself lodging
with a heart in bloom.
He offers you a smile upon waking
like one who grants you life, for nothing.
Looking into his face, you can't help discovering
a ten year old's world leaves memories
that at thirty still move you.
It seems a lie, but you'll see
the tender kiss will change
to a bitter smirk
when adolescent rage is upon you.
A clumsy bull charge will mean more to you
than the cautious steps you take now,
you'll look me in the eye and say
"I'm going out with my friends, Papa."
He runs around the house never thinking
that his world of "Legos" will end
from one day to the next, raining
fervent feelings to explore.
My days of being a genius will remain behind
beside those of being a hero, already long gone.
Our days of being fast friends will find us still
riding our bicycles around the city.
El Trovador Atirdido/The Dazed Troubadour
From what I know of this friend I am amazed
how easily he let himself
be influenced by this conformist wave,
which led him to see himself in a new light.
With what fervor he used to sing to us,
about injustices and a better world,
now he swears that that was just a phase,
and that he finally knows the truth.
That the struggle and the street protests
are just a fuss that will change nothing,
That we are in the situation we are in
of our own fault and that is that.
That our beautiful native Americas
cannot think straight for their inferior diets,
that the whites of the European continent
think better, they ate more ham.
He tells me it is a question of genes
that is why we cannot make progress,
immobile phantom servants,
will be the only goal we can achieve.
Salma Hayek should not get too excited,
they will only give her whorish roles,
and Leguizamo, don't build up your hopes,
you'll always play the imprudent drug addict.
The disgrace of the troubadour
of the dazed troubadour,
I sing out loud
so as not to lose my way.
Rosa Sin Espinas/Rose Without Thorns
True that your eyes
that lighthouse with its mantel
scares away the fear.
In dark nights I've learned from you
that in the dawn of this new love
giving it all is your bastion.
The goblin of time
transforms two beings
entangled with the verb to live
turning them into jasmine.
Deep grooves will help us
scale the wall of intimacy,
two bodies to the wind
today will blossom.
False that your lips
take pity on me,
my own lips despair
as they see you come.
It's right that the days not be always thus,
happiness always carries a bit of suffering
a rose without thorns, that's not living.
Rocio De Oscuridad/Dew of Darkness
The day that marked
the end of your stay,
your standoffish words
gave their last farewell.
Reasons were not lacking
for your departure,
those who praised you yesterday,
today doubt your love.
The passage of time in your hair
has gnawed away at your being
yet I doubt that it has made you
wiser in your old age.
What was it that hurt you,
who was it that so cursed you,
that your fragile glance
refuses all love?
Those who see you sparkling
with a thousand lights don't see
the clarity of Vieques
will never be extinguished.
I know, they were lost,
days of happiness.
dew of darkness.
El Terror Monta En Aviones/Terror Travels By Plane
From among the shadows
from among whispers
they feed on the blood
of our lost dreams.
Our hope doesn't fade
The "war on terrorism,"
Well those who preach liberty
are the ones who pull the trigger.
They've resuscitated McCarthy
they glorify Reagan,
and Oliver North they've crowned
king of the evening news.
Today a camouflaged plane
dropped leaflets, and on them
the typewritten names
of a thousand accused.
They never learn from their mistakes,
they swear they never made them.
Today history is assaulted
in an abandoned lot.
Terror travels by plane
"this I already knew"
cries, drenched in blood,
a little girl in Baghdad.
La Caída/The Fall
All that goes up comes down
of that there's no argument.
From the smallest to the biggest
what goes up must come down.
You don't have to be a genius
and it is not by chance,
that the higher it goes up
the bigger the crash will be.
You can see already on the horizon
a monumental fall
with thousands of eyes shut
the blow will let you know.
was your infernal banner
fluttering in the slide
of so vertical an ending.
Your cries will be in vain
no one will pick you up
today my own cries shout,
Neither age nor love of mischief
will save you from this one
the bodies you use as scaffolding
will leap out of the way.
I recommend common sense
and a pinch of humility
a cupful of truths
and a cube of humanity.
It's the recipe of the day
the purgative of the week
you are your own worst enemy
not Osama or Saddam.
A Solas Juntos/Alone Together
Alone in your arms
I have come here,
to talk things over.
Let's stop pretending,
our everyday is already cruel suffering.
Our hands sweat
Time is witness
to our pain,
years have gone by
The cause of this shipwreck
was our rapid boarding.
Tottering between sorrow and pain
marked our inevitable destiny.
Today I find myself absent beside you,
beneath the blue cloak of our seas,
I drowned in the deaf deep
without ending our troubles.
Our lips dry,
saltpeter and sweat
our tears absent,
swallowed by the sun
a vessel adrift,
La Musa/The Muse
Gusts of vanished ideas
confront me today,
demanding with closed fists
that I give them life again.
Dreams that in frustration
retraveled the alleys of the past,
and in the present forge
a somber future.
It's hard to rediscover
the caresses of the muse
who challenges me to a thousand duels,
well-armed and hooded.
In a dark room she dwelled yesterday,
the patched muse of my heart.
In closed worlds it's easy to avoid
taking the brush in hand and beginning.
Perfect dreams will mock
the wild horse of creating,
I give free rein to my imagination
with my soul at my shoulder I don't worry.