#95 / The Jaime Roos ‘Complete Works’: A Must-Have for (Serious) Alt Latin Music Lovers

Aquello (1980)

jr-aquello

Aquello is the first great-from-beginning-to-end album by Jaime Roos. The songs are solid, Jorge Trasante confirmed his status as one of Uruguay’s best percussionists ever, the album still sounds amazing and it is the first faithful representation of what was to come later: an edgy fusion of popular, carnival songs with psychedelic experimentation. The two previous albums put him on the map of Uruguayan music, but from here on Jaime really started kicking ass. An absolute gem.

Liner notes by Guilherme de Alencar Pinto: “Aquello reflects the multi-cultural, multi-dimensional and psychedelic climate of Amsterdam and Paris, the two cities where Jaime lived and worked. It adopts the Beatle attitude of lacking a unified style in favor of composing a universe based on the montage of diverse styles (some totally in-your-face, others represented in distorted form). It was influenced by a great friend of Jaime’s, Raimundo ‘Botánico’ Chaigneau, exiled Chilean writer, whose insistence on ‘the clarity of the phrase’ and ‘the chassis of the song’ represented a challenge towards executing more compact and concrete songs (Botánico died of a fulminant cancer in 1980, before the recording of Aquello started).

Except for ‘Te quedarás’ (composed in late 1975) and ‘Flamenca real’ (written in Madrid in 1978, during a tour), all the songs in the new repertoire are from 1979, even though ‘Viviendo’ uses a chorus of a Walter Venencio musicalization of [Raúl González] Tuñón’s ‘Juancito Caminador.’

Again, Jaime agreed to make the album with Jacques Subileau, of the French label Atmosfera: It would be a co-production. Jaime paid for a third of the 200 studio hours, and the sum was given as a down payment to Studio Frémontel, in Normandy’s countryside. Atmosfera would pay the rest once the album was completed.

From the Para espantar el sueño roster, [only] Uruguayan Trasante, Argentine Grasso, and the French Parrenin and Menny returned.

Well-established as an instrumentalist, Jaime now had close ties with several other top-notch musicians: He regularly played with Californian Paul Stocker, Venezuelan Raúl Mayora, and Argentine Daniel ‘Charuto’ Capuano (another great friend from the Botánico group). In the circle of rioplatense musicians, he crossed paths with Argentina’s [Juan José] Mosalini and [Osvaldo] Caló, and with his Uruguayan colleague Roberto Darvin. France’s Benoît Widemann was an acquaintance of Menny’s (his part was recorded as ‘Take Zero,’ during soundcheck). With the parts of El Sabalero — whose 1979 Colmeneras album was produced by Jaime — and Mayora, Jaime started the practice of assigning some of his songs to the voices of others.

All the arrangements were written in Amsterdam. The dense tones also imply a more adventurous use of recording techniques: The multiple layers in ‘Milonga de la guarda’ (including the outdoor ‘reverb chamber’ through which ducks and birds were leaked), the four pianos in ‘Viviendo,’ and the arbitrary on-and-off of the winds tracks in ‘Te quedarás.’ Appearing for the first time in Jaime’s music are the electronic keyboards (‘Viviendo’) and a pre-rock popular focus (‘Aquello,’ ‘Los Olímpicos’).

As soon as the mix was done, Atmosfera went bankrupt without paying for its part of the studio time. The studio kept the tapes. The only thing Jaime could obtain was a copy in 19 cm per second (half the definition of a professional recording), which was mastered at the Translab studio in Paris. That material was sent to Uruguay and, like Jaime’s previous albums, was released by Ayuí. The album is still remarkable for the quality of its sound, even though it’s merely a shadow of the original, which could never be obtained.

The cover photo is from 1979; it was taken at Amsterdam’s Madame Tussauds museum by a hidden photographer who sold it to Jaime at the exit. The character on the left is Botánico.

In Uruguay, ‘Aquello’ and ‘Tu laberinto’ enjoyed some radio air time, ‘Los Olímpicos’ was a minor hit, and the vinyl and cassette editions sold almost 2,000 copies. Jaime visited Uruguay in 1981 and presented it in his first show of original material in front of a massive crowd.”

Next page: 1982’s Siempre son las cuatro.

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11 thoughts on “#95 / The Jaime Roos ‘Complete Works’: A Must-Have for (Serious) Alt Latin Music Lovers

  1. Enrique – saludos desde Irlanda. Thank you for these blogs about Jaime Roos’ music. I am a great admirer of this soulful, honest and important music from a beautiful and soulful country. I didn’t know if the 4 CDs in the new batch are the same quality as the first sets, your blogs have corrected that for me.

    I did buy some in Montevideo but have also been able to find them also on Amazon (muy, muy caro) or ebay (mejor precio).

    Do you know why “Brindis Por Pierrot” has not been released as a standalone disc or am I missing something?

    Gracias por su trabajo, Simon Leng

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    • OK, Guilherme explains this clearly in his commentary to Selladas Uno, but here’s a quick summary: The ‘Brindis por Pierrot’ album only included three new songs: “Brindis por Pierrot,” “Murga de la Pica” and the new version of “Cometa de la Farola.” The other six songs had already been released on other albums. ‘Selladas Uno’ includes these three songs.

      The ‘Brindis por Pierrot’ album is not included in this collection because the idea is not to repeat songs, except in the case of different versions of one song, but not the same version.

      These 13 albums only include three “repeat” songs: the Estela Magnone duets included in both the ‘Mujer de sal junto a un hombre vuelto carbón’ and ‘El Puente’ albums.

      I hope this clarifies things. Thanks for reading and listening!

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  2. Thanks, that is great information. Here’s a thought for you…..is “Fuera de Ambiente” Jaime Roos’ masterpiece? To my ears it could be

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    • I love ‘Fuera de Ambiente,’ but I’m not sure if it’s his masterpiece. Definitely one of his best, and unfairly underrated. It’s his only album of originals with no solos. Everything is written down. Beautiful songs. When I saw him live for the last time in 2007, my mother was on her deathbed and he kindly dedicated “Catalina” to her. I think his first masterpiece is ‘Aquello’, but I also love ‘Siempre son las cuatro’, ‘Mediocampo’ and ‘Estamos rodeados’. And ‘La Margarita’ too. But I love them all. I’m a diehard fan.

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      • I look forward to hearing the next set of 4 which I ordered for a reasonable price on amazon, so they are available globally. I especially like “Vida Numero Dos” which I think is a profound piece and captures many different musical elements…some of which I have written about:

        https://www.amazon.com/Simon-Leng/e/B001K8QRDK/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1490012790&sr=1-2-ent

        I am pro-Uruguay so probably biased but as well as great soccer players and teams the country has produced some really world class music with Opa, Ruben Rada and Jaime Roos leading the pack. Outstanding musicians.

        Best wishes…

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