Various Artists


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Lusomania could serve as a model for compilations based on common language (Portuguese here) more than musical genre -- seven artists get two songs apiece drawn from live performances at Berlin's Heimatklange Festival. The brief liner notes sketch a basic history linking Portugal, Brazil, and Angola, but the big thing is that these are up-and-coming artists, not another round of the old Gilberto Gil/Milton Nascimento/Caetano Veloso school from Brazil, for example. Most have had an international impact (though Maio Coope & Gumbezarte make their recording debut on Lusomania) and the mixed bag of music from three continents ensures variety and fresh discoveries. Bonga is the most emotionally affecting -- his voice has some Bob Seger grit to start with and the fact that it sounds hoarse and the worse for wear only works in favor of generating the heartache saudade. He's a hurting unit singing the hell out of the sad "Makongo," probably the single best performance here, ravaged voice and all, with a great flute solo for counterpoint. Margareth Menezes' pair of gentle, sweet-sounding MPB Brazilian pop with nice sax again confirms she's just a wonderful singer. Oswaldlinho & Banda Som de Forró bring sprightly, accordion-fueled forro from northeastern Brazil on a pair of light, saudade-free tracks with female vocals and some jaunty squeezebox skank on "Reggae Sanfonando." Cape Verde's Simentera continues in the festive vein with stronger percussion and violin leading, and electrifying Mangue Beat innovators Chico Science & Nação Zumbi bring their rhythmic side to "Rios, Pontes & Overdrives" before kicking into the surdo drum thunder and power chord zone (and a bit of extraneous solo padding) on "A Cidade." Waldemar Bastos is more notable for seasoned professionalism and a searing (not to mention jarring) heavy rock guitar lead on "Pitanga Maduira," and while Maio Coope's ragged, lilting rhythms aren't special, they don't lower the musical level, either. Lusomania is hard to fault as a compilation -- it spotlights fresh, up-and-coming artists who unleash a wide variety of different styles and sounds that meld together into a satisfying whole here.

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