In December 2003, I spun off a highway driving through a blizzard. I landed in the median strip, my nerves shattered and my car--a two-door Toyota, low to the ground--hobbled. I had left Columbus, Ohio, in the early morning and made it to Buffalo around lunchtime. I stopped for a snack in a truck-stop south of the city. I was heading for Ithaca, to spend a few days with a friend who was teaching at Cornell. In the early afternoon, back on I-90, heading east, the storm started. I am a New Englander. This wasn't my first time pushing through a blizzard on I-90. Traffic was down to one-lane, visibility limited, and I had been driving for six hours. Caught in the wake of a long-haul truck, my front tires pulled to the left and I spun out.
I rocked the car back to front, shifting the manual transmission between reverse and first gear--this wasn't the first time I had been whipped into the median strip during a blizzard, either--got back onto the highway, slid into the single-file traffic, and took the first exit, looking for a gas station. The suspension was knocked out of alignment and the car rattled worryingly whenever I slowed. It was mid-afternoon, Ithaca was another six hour drive, through the blizzard, away. I didn't have the money to call it a day, to wait out the snowstorm in a Motel 6.
Fuck it. Back into the snow. Eight hours later, I wobbled into Ithaca. During those eight hours, I focused on two things, keeping the car steady, and Tom Waits' 1992 release, Bone Machine. I haven't listened to the cassette since, but can still feel The Earth Died Screaming, Jesus Is Gonna Be Here, and Murder in the Red Barn.
Demba, a small town in the Kasaï Occidental (now part of the Kasaï Central). These songs were recorded in 1993--not long after Bone Machine.
This is the sixth cassette from the Kasaï that I have shared, all purchased from street vendors in Kananga or Mbuji-Mayi, in 2011. This one doesn't sound like a live performance--that is, made in front of an audience. I don't think it is a live-to-boombox recording, either. My guess is that these songs were recorded in a radio studio.
I hope Tshibaka Mulomba can help you, as well, get through these final weeks of 2020.
Keep it on repeat. Enjoy!!