An album in which Belgium’s well travelled troubadours head deeper into their exploration of the music of north-east Brazil.
These guys are no fly-by-nights, they made their name with a three-album study of the music of Morocco and now they’re on their second collaboration with Brazilian musicians, following 2004’s acclaimed Chuva Em Po.
It’s pretty much the same line-up as on that CD, with the trade-mark brassy Think of One sound enriching songs that leap back and forth in time to cover a whole array of the country’s popular music styles from samba to côco, maracatu to bossa nova.
Included once again are the exemplary percussion arrangements of Hugo Carranca, and on a handful of tracks the extraordinary sexagenarian Dona Cila do Côco, whose voice ranges from cutesy schoolgirl to full-throated rasp. She’s particularly entrancing on the catchy Tirar Onda, a feel-good tune destined to be one of the sounds of the summer; and the call-and-response fiesta vibe of Feira De Mangaio, one of a handful of tracks embellished by some energetic lead guitar work from main man David Bovée.
Elsewhere, the reggae-tinged title track gives a nod and a wink to spiritual cousins The Clash and Manu Chao, guest Peter Vandenberghe’s cheesy hammond organ lends an end-of-pier effect to the laid-back bossa-nova of Aai, and Samba Belga evokes an era of 60s nouvelle vague cinema and balanço (samba-jazz) music. There’s plenty of sustenance for fans of the experimental side of the Belgians as well — the relentlessly percussive Maracatu Misterioso is shot through with some characteristic experimental jazz and vocal improvisation. And on Tahina a fiery female chorus leads an increasingly chaotic madcap race through an out-of-kilter take on what sounds uncannily like the Bonanza theme tune to a dramatic punky ending. I kid you not!
So, this is party music at its very best — a sizzling marriage of European jazz, punk and pop with South American rhythms destined to enliven all the best outdoor gatherings this summer.