Allen Cote



In the beginning was ¡paLABra! and ¡paLABra! might or might not have been with god, but ¡paLABra! was most certainly not god.

They tried pretty hard, though. There was some study, and some substance, and some spontaneous improvisation. There were a couple storm sessions, ten songs recorded live in less than ten hours. There were several thousand followers singing and dancing on a hill, and several invitations from elected officials. Were they not fairly level folks, it could have been pretty heady stuff.

It is generally agreed upon that Allen Coté, Benjamin Schaefer, Calvin Turner, Lisa Ridgely, Nathan Kilen, Quinten Farr and Sugar Ransom are some of the most multi-faceted artists in Milwaukee, having performed with dozens of different ensembles across the country. It is somewhat more contentious as to what exactly possessed this diverse group to record an album devoted entirely to the gospel of long dead Cuban composers. And it is a complete mystery as to why they chose to do it in such a visceral and violent fashion.

To call it the devil's music does the devil a great disservice, as the sacred squall transcends ideas of good and evil, existing outside time and tempo as that which just is, as though it had always been, the primal scream in Latin. It is both utterly revolutionary and completely commonplace, a howling guitar and inhuman vocoder grating the melody to a five century old folk song. It is passionately romantic and wholly without sentiment, a bolero acid-washed with bleeding fingers. It is the rhythm of the saints and the harmonies of the angels sung by hell's choir. It is a sound for the whole being, the head, the heart and the hips.

With the passing of plagues, we may never again have the opportunity to bear direct witness to this madness, but that may be for the best, as that which is only exists by virtue of that which is not. In the absence of ¡paLABra! we have been given a text of the intangible, lovingly translated by engineers Andrew Jambura at Silver City Studios and Justin Perkins at Mystery Room Mastering, illuminated by artist Sue Lawton, and published by Dézòd Rèkòd, with all royalties returning to the estates of the original authors.

¡paLABra! will be available in all tangible and intangible forms on May Day, in our year of the lord, two thousand and twenty-one.