Mention Angola and many people in the West might get stuck in civil war/oil/development mode. In comparison with other countries in the world, yes, Angola's existence has been problematic, and things are getting 'better'. But if you just have a listen to what's been happening on the ground, you might get a clearer picture. You might even have some fun. Remember that the city of Luanda has been a central point of the Atlantic world since the age of the discoveries. The last 500 years has seen a massive mix of cultures and traditions that has left a unique and complicated heritage, and it deserves all the attention it can get. At last we have a record that brings us the highs and lows of 'angolanidade' from the time when the independent nation was born in the capital.
Sadly many of these important examples remained inaccessible to wider audiences due to repressive colonial isolation, violent postcolonial politics and a lack of interest in anything 'cultural'. But a now peaceful Angola will no doubt become a new gold mine for 'world music' aficionados. Awaiting you is an extraordinary blend of Caribbean, Latin and local influences: merengue, semba, kazukuta and more, all with the classic vintage sound of old favourites, yet with a refreshing twist. Furthermore - as the insert notes will show you - these tracks have been painstakingly compiled with great sensitivity, hard work and above all, a genuinely real interest.
However, the tragic irony of this 'golden age' of Angolan music is also laid bare. What was firstly contained and carefully fostered by the colonial authorities soon became the sound of an independence movement that eventually consumed itself, dragging everyone - music and all - into the depths of a civil war that ended less than a decade ago. If this music was meaningful enough to be silenced, it deserves to be listened to again and again.