Bixiga 70 ‘III’ (Glitterbeat) CD/LP/Dig 4/5

PrintSao Paulo group Bixiga have been influenced by the 1970s recordings of Fela Kuti, but have expanded their own instrumental sound to take in West African and Ethio-Jazz flavours and the result is this new recording, their third album in total. Collective horns and beefed up percussion make for a bright and breezy exploration of pan-African music and on ‘Martelo’ they offer up some 1970s Afro-funk with tasty horns and wah-wah guitar. Previously they have recorded for Mais Um Discos and toured Europe and North Africa, and this seems to have influenced their overall eclectic approach. A more contemporary dance groove is to be found on the pumping bass line of ‘Niran’ while subtle dub effects and delicate keyboards are a feature of the melodic mid-tempo number ‘Ventania’. The Ethio-Jazz connection is dissected on ‘Lentro’ where the guitar sound oscillates between surf guitar and a more groove-laden approach while funk guitar riffs abound on ‘Di Dancer’.
What makes this album rise above the plethora of Afro-Beat wannabes is the skilled use of reeds that includes flute accompaniment as on the uptempo ‘Mil Vidas’ and in truth the Fela sound is merely a starting point from which the band departs and lays down its own voice. Excellent retro 70s cover with African artefacts.

Tim Stenhouse