Battle of Santiago
Made With Pencil
La Migra comes at a crucial juncture in world history. The fear of other cultures is not only driving politics in America, but anti-immigrant parties have made strong showings in France and the normally ultra-tolerant Netherlands. Culture shock is nothing new. Fear of strangers is as old as humanity. How we choose to deal with our current culture clash will affect our countries for generations.
For the folks in the Canadian band, Battle of Santiago, the clash of cultures is the stuff of inspiration and the raw material for making art. Half of the band members are Canadians with roots in art rock. The other half of the band are Cuban immigrants. The music they make is a sound-clash of their respective backgrounds. They seek to create something new and beautiful from these diverse elements.
The Latin elements are what strike you first. The band has at least three percussionists on any given track, so the Afro-Cuban rhythms are front and center. You also can’t miss that they’ve chosen to sing in Spanish, rather than English. As you listen though, the U2-like guitar textures and Radiohead-like electronics become apparent and the horns are pure jazz. Since I can’t understand a word they’re singing, I can’t tell you what the songs are about. I can tell you that the tunes are hard driving, percussion heavy workouts that make great driving music or dance tunes. There may be politics mixed in there somewhere, but Battle of Santiago makes it all so much fun.
Just a few more comments to wrap things up. The album title, La Migra means immigration police. The title was selected before the Trump / Le Pen anti-immigrant bandwagon really got going. The name of the band could refer either to battles fought in Cuba or a particularly nasty match between Chile and Italy at the 1962 FIFA World Cup. Either one works as far as the band is concerned.