Liner notes for Lucas Odahara and Luiz Monteiro’s “COVER (Something Newly Missing)” (2020), discussing the power of musical covers, their relation with the blues and Latin America’s idea of solitude.
To cover something is to protect it, to insulate that thing from external influences – to make it precious, unique, secure. For music, to cover a song is to protect it exactly by exposing it to external touch; to cover a song is to yield different listenings, or the very possibility of different listenings to begin with. A cover opens up, paradoxically as it is, the possibility of discovery.
Any musical cover is, in its essence, the very denial of essence. And it is exactly in this moment of denial, in the break with the idea of essence, that its potential is revealed, in a Fred Moten mood. A chord with a different voicing, a note held just a tidbit longer, the presence or absence of a modal flourish: a cover contains everything but the original, or the very possibility of originality to begin with.
The blues transports our hearts to a past we never saw happening, but have (perhaps unwillingly or unknowingly) participated in its making. Or perhaps we dreamt of it, swimming in late night radio waves and mistranslated liner notes. Much like the cover, we are being constantly discovered; the blues is always happening in Latin America.