In “Mima: Caribbean Sweet Water,” Catalina Johnson reviews a new album—El Pozo—by Yarimir Cabán AKA Mima, a singer/musician from Puerto Rico. I listened to a few of the songs through the links provided—truly original, smart, and delightfully quirky. According to the review, Mima will be in concert on Wednesday, May 15 at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, Illinois. Here is Johnson’s full review with a link to the original:
“The metaphor of the well is so ancient … it’s a place of encounter, transgression, collaboration, awaiting,” says Yarimir Cabán, known as Mima. An experimental neo-Caribbean musician from Puerto Rico, Cabán has emerged as one of the island’s most original and striking artists, and via phone from San Juan, she is describing the title of her sophomore album and the motif of its main song.
“El Pozo” (The Well) is a concept album, and its songs are woven together in a narrative that has as its starting point “El Pozo O La Tumba” (The Well or the Tomb). In this song, one woman is singing about loving another woman and wondering if the hole she is digging will be a well with sweet water to quench her thirst or the site of her demise. Mima will focus on songs from the album when her tour brings her to the Old Town School of Folk Music on Wednesday, May 15. This performance will be her Chicago debut.
The album tells tales of journeys through surreal landscapes, fueled by Rita Indiana’s highly-charged poetic imagery. Indiana, a cult figure and highly regarded writer and musician from the Dominican Republic wrote seven of the album’s 11 tunes. The richly-textured arrangements evolve from Afro-Caribbean beats to psychedelic tropical grooves and incorporate even bits of Ravel’s “Bolero.” These came about in close collaboration with producer and drummer Mark Underwood, also known as DJ Nature (Underwood is from Goshen, Indiana, though he has made his home in Puerto Rico).
It has been an unusual journey also for Cabán, emerging from a strict Christian Evangelical family who tried to encourage her musical talents from when she was very young. Her father even gave her a guitar when she was twelve, but Cabán resisted taking a musical path. Instead, she chose to study architecture and history, despite a two-year stint as backup vocalist for Cultura Profética, a highly renowned reggae group from the island.
Music drew her back in almost by coincidence when at some point she began covering for another musician and the venue insisted on booking her repeatedly. The first song she wrote, “Mima”, became a local hit and was the song the audience would call out when she appeared on stage–hence her artistic name. To date, Cabán continues on a path that is always about reinvention, because as she puts it: “I am always testing myself, I get too uncomfortable if I stay in one place.”
For more information on the album, see http://mima.bandcamp.com/album/el-pozo
For the original review, see http://www.chicagomusic.org/blog/mima-musical-sweetwater