Batida ‘Batida’ (Soundway) 3/5

Electronica and world roots music are sometimes unlikely and uncomfortable bedfellows, but definitely not mutually exclusive concepts and this fascinating project from Portugese-Angolan DJ Mpula (Aka Pedro C) of music that would normally circulate on the streets of Angolan capital Luanda in pirated form is merely a foretaste of what is likely to become an increasingly dominant trend, fusing acoustic and electronic sounds. The question as ever is how successful is the musical métissage and here the answer is a success with a few qualifications to hand. Where the underpinning rhythm is traditional as on the melodic rhythm guitar led piece ‘Tirei o chapéu’, the shuffling beat works beautifully and the harder edged vocals of Ikonoklasta do not seem out of place. Even rootsier is another contribution from the aforementioned singer on ‘Cuka’ and the use of electronica serves to enhance the traditional flavours. Less successful is on the cold intro to ‘Puxa’ which may alienate fans of acoustic roots before a sudden shift in pace while there are uneven attempts at combining genres on ‘Yumbale’ which, to these ears, sounds like an in-between of Trinidadian soca and rap. New fans to roots music who are more at home with contemporary dancefloor grooves will find much to appreciate in the repetitive drum patterns of ‘Bazuka’ and in the ambient and dub effects that are present on ‘Alegria’ with nifty guitar licks. The fusion of acoustic and electronic music within the sphere of world roots is still only in its infancy globally and therefore it should not be a surprise that the balance struck is not always the right one. Other musicians as disparate as Congotronics and Céu have found winning combinations and Angolan music will ultimately take on board these developments in due course. This a departure from roots unearthing specialists Soundway and they are to be applauded for taking the risk of focusing on new artists who are more street-wise in orientation. Long-time African music fans would do well to listen to these new sounds for they are only going to encourage a new generation of music listeners to check out the golden oldies while tapping in to new artists, and that can only be a positive outcome for all concerned. Tim Stenhouse

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