Various Artists

Africa: The Music of a Continent

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This collection of African music attempts, at least in theory, to showcase the new cutting-edge music of Africa alongside its older counterparts. In some ways, it does this admirably, showing off Angola's Bonga on a fado-based form of song, as well as the common people of Burundi in their various musical endeavors. For pieces of cross-cultural or outsider-influenced music, there is also a pair of examples: the Berber musicians of Marrakesh playing Arab-inspired wedding tunes, and a Cameroonian Catholic mass (though for Africanized masses, one would find a more complete, and more rousing set on Missa Luba from Kenya). The highlights on the album are most notably Bonga's opening track, and the work of balofon playing by Koko of Burkina Faso. Notable omissions are present, though -- for example, highlife, soukous, Afro-beat, South African, and Yoruba forms are all missing. For an overview of African music, there are a million albums available, and this one doesn't particularly stand out. For Portuguese-influenced African music, it's actually refreshingly good, along with a spare piece of French Sega dance by Roger Clency to boot.

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