Batucaxé: The Blessing of the Beat (Self-released) 

The Blessing of the Beat, the first CD from local Afro-Brazilian collective Batucaxé, includes songs from Brazilian artists, as well as original songs written with South American and African music in mind.

The Blessing of the Beat (a translation of the name Batucaxé) is not just a blend of musical styles, though; it's a blend of a lot of musicians, too. Lots of people are singing and playing lots of different instruments, and all of that energy means that dancing is inevitable.

All of these voices and instruments turn the record itself into a community; just by dancing and singing along, listeners become members of the group. The record starts with the title track, a welcome ritual where lots of people cry out "Batucaxé!" before percussion instruments gradually enter. By the second track, "Candeal" (originally by the Brazilian group Timbalada), even more voices are singing and yelling along to a thick, tribal groove, as if the energy is spreading virally.

The fun only increases: There's "Parapoderembolar," with its giddy guitars and lyrics in the Brazilian style of embolada; "Ilê Aiyê Suite" even has call-and-response. By the last song, "Batucaxé Axé," the album feels like the end of a party no one wants to leave.

More by Annie Holub


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