ANGOLA SOUNDTRACK 2.

ANGOLA SOUNDTRACK 2.

Following three aggravated uprisings in 1961, the Angolan authorities were forced to act. There was no denying it, Angola was in crisis. The country could implode. Something had to be done. The status quo wasn’t an option. What followed was a double edged sword of repression and reform. For the first time, foreign investment was allowed into Angola. Another first, was that children were allowed access to education. This was the good news. However, the program of reform proved to be a double edge sword.

At a stroke, the Angolan authorities banned the carnaval groups which had proved popular since 1958. This was perceived as an act of cultural censorship and vandalism. Angolans weren’t going to stand for the suppression and repression of cultural expression. They didn’t take this lying down. Soon, a new generation of Angolan entrepreneurs and musicians started promoting concerts, opening clubs and forming bands. Before long, Angolan music had a thriving, underground music scene. However, it wasn’t until 1969 that Angola had its own recording industry.

Sadly, the Angolan recording industry lasted only nine years. Between 1969 and 1978 just a few record companies  dominated the Angolan music industry. They released over 800 records, most of which were singles. Twenty-one of these tracks feature on Angola Soundtrack 2, which was recently released by Analog Africa. These twenty-one tracks documents the musical legacy left by these Angolan labels.  Before I pick the highlights of Angola Soundtrack 2, I’ll tell you how the Angolan music scene came about.

After the banning of carnaval, Angolan music started to change. Angolan musicians didn’t take this cultural suppression lying down. They reasoned that Carnaval was just one type of music. Music hadn’t been banned. So, new musical genres evolved. The turmas, which were musical groups, began to incorporate guitars into their music. This influence came from the Congo and Cape Verde. Soon, more bands were formed and the Angolan music scene expanded. What they needed, was somewhere to play. 

Montes had been a stalwart of the Angolan music scene since about 1958. Six years later, he was just as supportive of Angolan music. He wanted to take bands to other parts of Angola, where these bands had never played before. Having gotten sponsorship from a beer company, Montes was able to take the bands on a tour of various parts of Angola. This circuit was called the Kutonoca, and eventually, took in nine different venues. At each venue, the bands had a chance to showcase their talent. Most of the songs were sung in the Kimbundu dialect, and became part of Angola’s cultural identity. The only problem was, that the only way people could hear this music was live. Angola didn’t have a recording industry.

That was when Mr. Llorente, formerly of the Congolese record label Ngoma record label, founded Fadiang (Fabrica de Discos Angola). This was Angola’s first record pressing plant. It was pivotal to the future development of the Angolan music industry.

Not only did Angola have its own record pressing plant, soon Angola had its first record company. This was Valentim de Carvalho. They had their own recording studio and released Dicanzas de Prenda’s Brinca Na Areia. It was released on Valentim de Carvalho’s subsidiary Ngola. This was the dawn of Angolan music industry. 

A handful of record companies dominated the Angolan music industry. This included the triumvirate of Rebita, Bonzao Discos and Ngola. They released some of the best Angolan music between 1969 and 1978. It can be found on Angola Soundtrack 2, which I’ll pick the highlights of.

Os Anjos’ Avante Juventude opens Angola Soundtrack 2. A truly irresistible and mesmeric track, a guitar meanders its way across the arrangement. Beguiling and fluid, its cinematic sound takes centre-stage. Meanwhile the rhythm section and percussion play supporting roles. Everything from Afro-beat, jazz, funk, Latin and surf music melt into one, during three magical minutes.

Tony Von’s vocal on N’Hoca is slow, pensive and soul-baring. Then all of a sudden, it’s all change. The song bursts into life. It’s akin to a call to dance. A myriad of percussion, chiming guitars and drums provide the backdrop to Tony’s joyous vocal. What follows is a slice of aural sunshine guaranteed to brighten even the dullest, darkest Winter days.

Urbano De Castro contributes two tracks to Angola Soundtrack 2. The first is Kialo Mingo, a single released on the Rebita label. It’s a fusion of influences. Everything from Afrobeat, samba, folk, funk, merengue and soul is combined. As Urbano delivers an impassioned, spirited vocal, he sings call and response, and this musical melting pot threatens to bubble over. The other track Fatimita, is a much more laid-back, understated and wistful sounding track. This allows us to hear two sides Urbano’s music.

One of the highlights of Angola Soundtrack 2 is Agarrem, the first of two tracks from Africa Ritmos. Released on the Rebita label, it’s an instrumental, allowing you to hear some of the best guitar playing on the compilation. It’s truly mesmeric. You’re enthralled by its delights. Then there’s Africa Ritmos’ pulsating, hip swaying rhythms. Truly, this is a potent partnership. Having enjoyed Agarrem, Africa Ritmos don’t let their standards slip on Olha O Pica. It doesn’t disappoint. Far from it. It’s more of the same. You’re swept away by this fusion of influences and genres. Drawing inspiration from jazz, Afro-beat, Latin and funk, you’re left longing to hear more from Africa Ritmos, formerly one of Angola’s musical secrets. Thankfully, not any more.

Negoleiros Do Ritmo released Lemba on the Bonzao Discos label. Written by Almerindo Cruz what follows is an innovative and infectiously catchy track. Percussion, drums and chiming, crystalline guitars usher in a heartfelt, joyous vocal. Soon, you’re caught up in the spirit of what’s an anthemic, joyous dance track where African and Western influences melt into one.

Carlos Lamartine’s Basooka is one of the hidden gems on Angola Soundtrack 2. Previously, it was tucked away on the B-Side of Jesus Diala Ua Kidi, a single released on N’Gola. After Carlos yells “Basooka” a blistering track unfolds. Driven along by guitars, blasts of braying horns, drums and percussion, it’s a glorious melange of merengue, Afro-beat, jazz, funk and soul. There’s even a ska influence. Mostly instrumental, Carlos only intervenes to encourage his band to even greater heights. In doing so, he ensures this is one of the highlights of Angola Soundtrack 2.

Africa Show released Inspiraçáo De Nito on the N’Gola label. This was one of several singles they released on N’Gola. Inspiraçáo De Nito is more than a little special. It has a cinematic, languid and jazz-tinged sound. Elements of Latin and funk shine through, as the guitar melts and wah-wahs into the distance. Shakers. drums and percussion punctuate the arrangement providing the perfect backdrop to  this melancholy, wistful track.

Closing Angola Soundtrack 2 is Teta Lando’s Fuguei Na Escola (Para Jogar A Bola). Teta has enjoyed a long and successful career. It started in the seventies, when he released his debut single on CDA. His career spanned four decades, where Teta became one Angola’s most successful musical exports. A heart-wrenching, jazz-tinged ballad Fuguei Na Escola (Para Jogar A Bola) is an emotive and quite beautiful way to close Angola Soundtrack 2. 

The twenty-one tracks on Angola Soundtrack 2 span the period between 1969 and 1978. Sadly, in 1978, the Angolan music industry collapsed. A civil war had engulfed Angola in 1975. It lasted twenty-seven years, ending in 2002. By 1978, the country had descended into chaos. Angola’s music industry, which looked like thriving, was no more. Its legacy was 800 releases, most of which were singles. They’re a tantalizing reminder of Angola’s rich musical heritage.

For too long, Angolan music has been overlooked. While we’re familiar with the music of Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Ghana, record companies have overlooked Angola’s musical past. Not any more. Samy Ben Redjeb’s Analog Africa released their first compilation of Angolan music in 2010. Three years later, comes the much anticipated followup, Angola Soundtrack 2. Featuring twenty-one tracks, Angola Soundtrack 2 is of the quality I’ve come to expect from Analog Africa. 

Analog Africa’s approach to compilations is to concentrate on quality, not quantity. Angola Soundtrack 2 is only their fifteenth compilation. Rather than releasing new compilations each month, Analog Africa take time and care, producing lovingly complied and lavish compilations. Angola Soundtrack 2 is proof of this. Featuring in-depth sleeve-notes, full of interviews with some of the musicians that featured on Angola Soundtrack 2, this sets the standard for compilations. It’s obvious time and effort has gone into the making of Angola Soundtrack 2, an eclectic collection of tracks.

There’s everything from Afro-beat, funk, jazz, Latin, merengue and soul on Angola Soundtrack 2. Musical influences and genres melt into one. Joyous, uplifting, irresistible and infectiously catchy describes the music on Angola Soundtrack 2. So does soulful, heartfelt and impassioned. Full of subtleties, surprises and hidden secrets, Angola Soundtrack 2 is the perfect introduction to Angolan music. It’s also the perfect followup to Angola Soundtrack. Just like Angola Soundtrack, Angola Soundtrack 2 is a tantalizing taste of Angola’s rich and vibrant musical legacy. Standout Tracks: Os Anjos Avante Juventude, Urbano De Castro Fatimita, Carlos Lamartine Basooka and Teta Lando’s Fuguei Na Escola (Para Jogar A Bola). 

ANGOLA SOUNDTRACK 2.

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