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Waldemar Bastos: Pretaluz (Blacklight)

Also from the Angolan musical front comes the first U.S. recording from the seasoned, itinerant musician Waldemar Bastos, whose impressive Pretaluz (Blacklight) (Luakabop 46481; 48:27) tells an engaging musical story. Like Bonga, Bastos was a musician in Angola during the uprising of the early ’70s, when outspoken musicians were officially repressed, or even killed. The continuing atmosphere of repression in his native country pushed him outward, to Portugal and then Brazil. He was heard on the fine Luakabop compilation, Afropea 3: Telling Stories to the Sea, and here gets his first full showcase on David Byrne’s label.

Like many of the albums on Luakabop, this one is bolstered by controlled, sensuous vocal gifts, instrumental tracks both graceful and inventive, and a cultural-stylistic stamp that isn’t pure and simple. Produced by Arto Lindsay, the album sports music that nods to influences from Africa to Brazil to Europe and back, a natural continuum in which the Angolan style of semba-the precursor of Brazilian samba-links up with its offspring. Bastos comes home with the tune “Querida Angola (Beloved Angola),” a statement of cultural belonging and longing that underscores all the music.

Originally Published