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Written in fRoots issue 367/368, Jan/Feb 2014

Huambo Música Sessions

PangeiArt PAN 107 CD (2013)

Huambo was one the Angolan cities most devastated in the 1990s during the civil war. Over the past decade it has been recovering, and this, the second CD released as part of the Tsikaya – Músicos Do Interior project initiated in 1997 by Victor Gama, brings us 2013 recordings, most made in an auditorium in Huambo, some in its surrounding province, of three solo singer-guitarists, a vocal and guitars duo, a solo female singer-percussionist, two village vocal and percussion groups and a vocal, electric guitars, keyboard and drumkit band.
     There are videos of all of them, and many other musicians recorded by the project, to be seen by clicking pins on the interactive map on the www.tsikaya.org website. (Click the “En” tab for the English-language version)
     It’s all ear-opening, refreshing and very listenable stuff, likely to surprise expectations of what Angolan music might sound like – the voices, the syncopatedly skipping solo acoustic guitar styles, the melodious songs, the energetic call-and response singing and interlocking percussion of the two big village groups.
     One of the most striking voices is that of singer-guitarist Carlos África, sweet, strong and high, in his soaring songs reminiscent of Hawaii’s Iz or Australia’s Gurrumul. He won the National Contest of Angolan Popular Music, and during 2013 was recording for an album, but in September he died, at the age of just 38, so his two songs here, Enhanga and Passado Do Contratado, recorded and videoed in May, capture his last performances.


© 2013 Andrew Cronshaw

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