angola soundtrack

It is a pleasure for me to introduce this compilation to the Generation Bass readers. Angola Soundtrack 2 represents a very special period in the Angolan music which had inspired an immense amount of countries and artists.

I have a special relation with this period because I grew up with my mom (raised in Angola) listening to these songs. And let me tell you it was not a easy task to understand these sounds and the relationship my mother has with this music. The emotion she put into listening to it, sometimes tears falling in her smile was incomprehensible for me. It took me years to understand it, but hey don’t blame me, I was a kid and colonization, Angolan independence and Civil War was to foggy for me yet.

WHY THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS PERIOD 69-76 ?

This period marks the pre-independence, the independence and the civil war days. And If you are aware of music made in revolution time you sure know that this is where you find the most passionate, dedicated and prolific authors. As a consequence, a short-lived recording industry in Angola, between 1969 and 1978, manufactured  approximately 800 records. Mostly singles were produced. Valentim de Carvalho formed two labels, NGOLA (for local music) and DECCA (for outside pop music). There was also RCA/TELECTRA, CDA (Companhia de Discos de Angola) and a few others with international licensing that had the opportunity to record this unique period.

To face the strong colonial politics of the time, cultural and recreational associations were formed to maintain the traditions and popular music since the late 19th century. 3 musical genres directly connected with traditional dances become popular: Kuduque, Rebita and later Kazukuta. Those recreational associations become the school to the evolution of Angolan music with the apparition of the “Turmas“. “Turmas” was a small group of musicians that played at sunsets in the townships ,musseques (“with sand” in opposition to the asphalted areas) and which also took part in the Carnival celebrations in the urban areas. The focus of the lyrics was the everyday of the “musseques”. Not so political, but already documenting the their daily life and the subjects inherent to social life, religious, agricultural or sea related. This is where it all started, at least in the use and blend the traditional rhythms with new influences coming from Europa  and Latin America.

WHERE AND WHY IT TOOK FORM?

Deeply rooted in rural life, music and dance were always associated with ritualistic celebrations. Circle dances and the “Call and Response” type of music was characteristic of rhythmic musical compositions of that time. Now think about this placed in a more urban environment. It acquires an whole new meaning and identity with European and Latin American influences such as the guitar and the accordion blended with  more traditional instruments like the ” Dikanza” or the “Kibabelo” . This is how Semba was created in the second half of 20th century. Transporting rural sounds played in the countryside to the guitar, adding some Latin elements like Rumba or Merengue, or even Jazz and vocals. Semba quickly grew into the hearts of all the Angolan and Portuguese communities living in Angola’s urban areas and acted as one of the few common interests of both black and white cities. The main figure of the change was Liceu Vieira Dias, who performed with the musical group N´gola Ritmos. He created Semba with all the inherent influences that we know today. A few groups stood out and quickly started to fill ballrooms. There was a need to create more and more recreational associations with weekly gatherings where new bands would showcase. The songs become more political, rebellious and provocative, so Portuguese repressive measures prevented Angolans to perform in the Carnival. There is where the name of Luís Montêz appears.

A Portuguese civil servant, entrepreneur and Angolan music fan named Luis Montês was already in a position to capitalize on Luanda’s need for a live music scene. His self-designed “Kutonocas” (Sunday afternoon live music festivals) delighted  Luanda´s population that was also hungry for communication between the city and musseques (townships). Moreover it forced groups to adapt to a different style of playing that would accommodate large stages and bigger audiences. They equipped themselves with electric guitars, and fed on the musical influences from Cape Verde, Congo and the Dominican Republic, while staying patriotically true to their own musical legacy and unique rhythms. ” Analog Africa

THE VOICE

The choice for a lead singer, the front person in a musical project, the “voice”, the “word”, the guide, had always different reasons to be chosen. In Angola the reason was the condition, the need of voices which can transport the visions and feelings of the Angolans… and what amazing voices came out those days. Singing in Portuguese, Kimbundu, Umbundu or other African languages, voices  like Sofia Rosa, Rui Mingas, Urbano De Castro, Quim Manuel, Carlos Lamartine, Elias Dia Kimuezo, Avozinho and so many more, mark a point in time, due to the circumstances, that is gonna be recoded as an unique musical period where magic happened.

THE GUITAR

Was it really the voice that started to sing in a more political and subversive way? In my opinion no. Before the voice began to be heard, first the electric guitars started to sing and cry by their own. If in the beginning, traditional music bands used lead singers to perform mainly folklore to tour along the country and in other countries, soon the voices grew in more poetical and same time activist path. Like as the rest of the world, during the 60´s,  Angolan musicians were influenced by Rock and Roll. The electric guitar was imported to Angola and names like  Five Kings, Eduardo do Nascimento (Os Rocks), Adolfo Coelho (Os Kiezos), Zé Keno (Jovens do Prenda) and many others whose names became hidden in the names of the groups, used the electric guitar to do a much more personal, emotive and artistic exploration of the instrument. If the lyrics had to have some contention during the Portuguese period and later the Civil War, the guitar start to express itself without barriers. The lead singer found an instrument to communicate and complement deeper thoughts.

THE COMPILATION

15 years ago, Samy Ben Redjeb, the compiler and also founder of the Analog Africa label found the early records of Rebita, Semba and Kazukuta. It was instant admiration and love which has now translated into these compilations. It is a joy to have contact with it. Asides the artistic and cultural importance, its the rarity of  the songs that makes this release unique. Many of this songs you can only find them in the archives of the record labels of that time. It includes that amazing re-work that Batida did of Carlos Lamartine with Águias Reais, “Bazooka” which is also one of the favorite tracks of  the visionary Miles Cleret of Soundway Records.

If you acquire this (which I strongly recommend), you are not only in the possession of a rare piece of a musical time capsule, but also you have an amazing work and investigation presented in the artwork and booklet.

” Featuring 44 pages acquired in coordination with the National Library of Luanda and the art magazine “Note E Dia“, Samy Ben Redjeb has managed to collect newspaper clips, extremely rare pictures of the bands on stage and printed interviews from the 70s. The stunning pages of passionate photography and artistic design also include interviews with many of the original artists and their families, biographies of the three labels that made it all possible, and of Luis Montês, who was the pulse of the live music scene in Luanda.”

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