Telmary (Cuba) – ‘Ves (feat. Kumar)’

At the start of January, i kicked off a new segment on the radio show: The 2008 Fat Planet World Tour. The concept behind this somewhat absurd and ambitious project is to travel around the world in 50 weeks, focussing on one country each week. Obviously, a fair few are going to fall by the wayside in the process, but that’s what 2009’s for…

After hitting on Canada and Mexico, this week we’re in Cuba for a slice of ‘Buena Vista’-free tunes. If your view of international music was coloured by your local retail store, chances are you’d think Cuban music begins and end with the Social Club. As much as Wim Wenders did the world a favour by exposing the Club to the masses, it also forced a greater shadow over everything else and gave most retailers a ‘get out’ clause. Gripes aside, two compilations crop up time and time again on the shelves around Sydney which explore, in part, new Cuban sounds – ‘Reggaeton: Cuban Revolucion’ (Petrol Records) offers an exemplary list of newcomers and the unfortunately-titled ‘Urban Latino’ (Nascente) give us local contributions from Clan 537, Flaco Pro and Instincto.

Into this mix, I’d like to also offer up Telmary and her 2006 release ‘A Diario’. Starting out as part of Free Hole Negro and later joining Interactive, Telmary’s debut is described as, above all else, “distancing itself far from the ghosts that undermine Hip Hop of hispanic origin”. This is accompanied by references to positivity and unity in the lyricism, and turning ones back on “ill-advised confrontation and facile commercialism”. The project is grand in scale, with over fifty contributors, and the above mp3 – with its irresistible tabla-reggaeton vibe – is a precursor to another three tracks that are available on Telmary’s Myspace.

For deeper exploration, you might try the book and documentary ‘East Of Havana’ (though no oddly no album?) at eastofhavana.com. Other names that have pricked our attention include Annimo Consejo, Free Hole Negro, Cubanito 20.20, Gente De Zona, Wichy de Vedado and Los Aldeanos. As ever on Fat Planet, further finds are welcomed and encouraged…