These days, Bonga Barceló de Carvalho (who only goes by his first name professionally) is to Angolan pop what Bunny Wailer and Jimmy Cliff are to reggae: an elder statesman of his genre. Bonga became well-known in the early '70s, and when the 21st century arrived, he still commanded a loyal following in Southern Africa. (He would later make Portugal his home.) It was in Portugal that Bonga produced Mulemba Xangola for the French Lusafrica label. This CD often incorporates elements of Afro-Cuban music; traditional African rhythms were a major influence on what came to be called salsa, and eventually, Afro-Cuban elements found their way to some of the pop music of various African countries, including Bonga's native Angola. One hears Bonga's enthusiasm for Afro-Cuban music on slow, moody, Portuguese-language selections like "Ngui Tename," "Olhos Molhados," and "Kimone Amarelo," as well as the occasional up-tempo tune. "Incaldido" and "Mutokodias" are among the CD's more exuberant and danceable offerings, but for the most part, Mulemba Xangola is designed for listening rather than dancing. A soulful addition to Bonga's catalog, Mulemba Xangola will please his diehard followers and could easily attract some novices as well.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson