26 October 2009

Monday's mp3: Jorge Ben Meets Afrobeat

Cacique'97: Cacique'97
(Footmovin' Records)

The Iberian Peninsula has long been an area of shifting, merging culture, in large part because of its position as a gateway to Africa and the Ottoman world. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that the latest Afrobeat troupe to emerge comes from Lisbon, and also incorporates musical elements of former Portuguese colony Brazil. Their name comes from a term meaning "chief" in indigenous Brazilian tribes plus the "'97" as a commemoration of the year Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti died.

The energy and arrangements of their self-titled album would make Fela proud, though as a non-Portuguese speaker unaided by any song notes or lyrics, I have no idea if they're singing about social injustice or just a desire to visit the mall. Okay, their press info indicates the former, mentioning their "activist approach and promotion of social awareness" and a couple of the songs include English lyrics, but still, would it have killed them to include some track notes? That quibble aside, this is some of the freshest Afrobeat I've heard in some time, and you've got to like a group that can make a Jorge Ben song (the opening track "Jorge De Capadocia") sound like it's straight outta Lagos. Highly recommended!

[mp3] Cacique '97: Sr. Diplomata
from the album Cacique'97 (not yet available anyplace I could find except the Portuguese online store fnac) -- Also available from iTunes (Thanks, Francisco)

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