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World Music CD Reviews Africa

Various Artists

By Doug Merlino
Published March 16, 2007

Africa Crioula Vol. 1
Different World 50016


Angolan popular music flowered in the troubled years leading to independence. Inspired by the sounds flowing over the border from the north, Angolans took the Congolese rumba and mixed it with distinctive homegrown styles such as the sambasamba—and the rebita. The results are extremely listenable, with intertwining guitars swinging over conga rhythms, walking bass lines and the wooden scraper with its sound similar to a brushed washboard. Male singers harmonize in Portuguese and Bantu. Africa Crioula pulls together 20 tracks from the decade before independence, all previously unreleased on CD. Songs such as Muhong’s “Falsos Amigos” boast catchy riffs and strong lead guitar. The arrival of civil war led many of the artists on this album to flee Angola. Others died in the conflict. The album is sadly short on documentation about the performers, offering only a cursory snapshot of a fertile but lost era.