Bonga

Kaxexe

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AllMusic Review by

Bonga's 2003 album Kaxexe (reissued in the U.S. by Times Square Records on March 9, 2004, after its initial appearance on the French Lusafrica label) finds the expatriate Angolan singer with the gruff, expressive voice performing with the largely acoustic Semba Master band, which conceives percolating rhythms and melodic guitar and accordion passages to accompany his introspective lyrics. He sings those lyrics in a combination of Portuguese and Angolan that the CD booklet helpfully translates into French (the Times Square reissue just reprinting the Lusafrica release). Rendering them a step further into English may be one iteration too many for perfect understanding, but the title song, for example, "Kaxexe," becomes "En Cachette" in French, which means secretly in English, and the French version tells a tale of a man's difficulties with a mysterious, generally absent woman, a sense backed up by Bonga's vocal interpretation. Not all the sentiments are so disquieting, and at times the music has a playful feel, as Bonga trades lines with the backup singers in a familiar South African style. The result is a varied collection that will appeal beyond those who understand Bonga's language.

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