Album Remarks & Appraisals:
"Angola during the 1960s and '70s, particularly its capital of Luanda, was a musical hotspot, as a wealth of different influences converged. Cuban son was still popular in West Africa, though the soon-to-be-popular emerging Congolese soukous was also filtering in from across the border. At the same time, Angola itself had been emphasizing its indigenous rhythms. The distinctive, and downright infectious, beats and call-and-response patterns - rebita, kazucuta, semba and merengue - were delivered through small, guitar-based groups with light percussion and, taking a cue from the times, light psychedelia. Much of this music had been ignored in Europe and America (and, probably, largely forgotten in Angola) until the French label Buda Musique started some reissues in the late '90s. But this recent 18-track collection (part of Analog Africa's excellent reissue series covering the continent) goes into much greater depths at documenting this history. Guitarist Ze Keno is the star, not just for his group, Jovens Do Prenda and their lively "Ilha Virgem," but through his work in helping introduce compiler Ariel de Bigault to the veterans presented here. The set also includes a 44-page booklet that tells their stories in fascinating detail." -DownBeat
The Wire (p.73) - "[M]usic with momentum and direction that carries you with it."
Uncut (magazine) (p.103) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he ANGOLA SOUNDTRACK in general is fairly flawless, particularly on charming instrumentals such as Ilha Virgem's 'Jovens Do Prenda'."
Translator: Dora Mendes.
Analog Africa's compilations are always among the most carefully researched, compiled, painstakingly mastered, and exhaustively annotated, and Angola Soundtrack, the compilation that closes out the label's 2010 releases, is no exception. Label boss Samy Ben Redjeb's record-collecting journey this time out took him to three continents over a period of a couple of years to find recordings and finally to Luanda itself. After buying, borrowing, and listening to literally hundreds of sides (he has a novel to write about his travels this time and should someday), he narrowed it to these 18 cuts, and they are a revelation. The contents focus on eight years between 1968 and 1976: from the period near the end of Angola's independence war with Portugal and the early years of its own civil war. The music here is a heady mix of traditional Luandan island rhythms, as they met musical styles from other African countries and those of the Latin American continent, the Caribbean, and American and European rock, soul, and funk. The electric guitar -- which was a popular element of the music from nearby Congo during these years -- plays a central role, as do innovative polyrhythmic tendencies that meld various musical traditions into something uniquely Angolan. The sequencing of these vocal and instrumental tracks on this set tells its own story, from its folkish origins through to a developmental period of reaching outside of itself into global grooves. Highlights include "Ilha Virgem" by Jovens do Prenda; the African salsa of "Mi Cantando Para Ti" by N'Goma Jazz; the driving "Passeio Por Luanda" by Alliace Makiadi; and the horn-and-guitar overdrive that is "Eme Lelu" by Quim Manuel o Espiritu Santo. The lengthy, hypnotic jam "Massanga Mama," which closes the set, includes everything from reggae to son to electric blues, and is alone worth the price of admission. Add Ben Redjeb's authoritative liners -- with some considerable co-authoring from African history professor Marissa Moorman -- and interviews with many of the artists here and from the period, and you have not only an indispensable compilation of Angolan popular music, but an irreplaceable one. ~ Thom Jurek
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