Madre by Francisco Gonzalez
This is another track from Francisco Gonzalez’s album El Regalo which I recorded and co-produced with Harvey Brooks at the 17th St Market studio. I was introduced to a handful of instruments for the first time recording this song. Francisco played an eight stringed instrument called the cuatro puertorriqueño. It has a buzzy shimmering quality that is addictive. The melody and solo lines he plays tell a parallel narrative running along side the vocal that creates a hypnotic droning quality in contrast to the highly rhythmic backdrop. The bass instrument is a marimbol which you could think of as a huge kalimba crossed with a cajon. It’s a rectangular box that the player sits on with a sound hole on the face positioned in between the players legs. Thick wood tines are secured in front of the sound hole and are plucked to make a woody resonant percussive sound. The face of the box can also be used as a percussion instrument. Jacob Hernandez, a musician haling from Francisco’s home of Veracruz, played it with dexterity creating a pulse everyone else rests upon. The most unexpected instrument was the quijada de burro or donkey jawbone. The teeth are played like a guiro and the jaw is struck with your elbow to make the teeth rattle and the jaw vibrate like a tuning fork. As always Francisco’s honest and emotional vocal delivery ties a bow around the entire thing.
The combination of the instrumentation gives the recording so much depth and the arrangement is so lush that it is comical to remember it was recorded in a carpeted, fluorescently lit office turned recording studio in the back of an industrial food market.