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Various Artists: Angola Soundtrack: The Unique Sounds of Luanda 1968-1976 (Analog Africa) 

The "soundtrack" of the title here represents the musical soundtrack of Luanda, the capital city of Angola in Southwest Africa. These 18 tracks by 15 acts (Os Bongos, Dimba Diangola and Jovens Do Prenda weigh in with two tracks each) provide a highly combustible set of dance-floor scorchers in a variety of styles. The common thread is sheer propulsion: reams of hyperactive percussion and (especially) cascading waves of electric guitars.

The guitars on display rival those found in Angola's musical kissing cousins—Afrobeat, Highlife and all sorts of Nigerian and Congolese funk, but also the twisting, effects-laden psychedelia of Colombian chicha. The fact that numbers like "Sémba Braguez" by Os Korimbas or "Passeio por Luanda" by Alliace Makiadi eerily resemble South American music underscores the true universality of the music from this era. In fact, the distinctive Caribbean rhythms and easy flowing riddims of merengue and other Latin-based music are some of the delightful, distinctive aspects of Angolan rock from the period.

But Angolan music of the period also drew its influences from the immediate surroundings, including traditional music from Luanda's islands and the country's interior, and Angolan carnival bands. This is joyful, raw, incredibly high-energy music that stops, notably, right as Angola was plunged into a nightmarish, decades-long civil war.

The generous 40-plus pages of liner notes admirably put the whole project and scene into historical perspective and are the capper to a release that is first-class from beginning to end.

More by Carl Hanni

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