synthesize the soul

I imagine you could devote an entire website just to these sort of compilations. I’d be the most avid reader. In Synthesize the Soul, Ostinato Records goes beyond the usual cheap comps of cult recordings for a genre that even some of the most studied diggers are probably incredulous exists: the world of electronic music developed by immigrants from Cape Verde and its influence on the wider European music scene. Music from Cape Verde has always had an outsized presence compared to the relatively spare population, but Ostinato makes a convincing case that this “alternate history” of the discotheque is a history worth studying.

“In Cape Verde, we had no access to electronic instruments,” said Tchiss Lopes, a Cape Verdean singer based in Rome. “In Europe, we had access, but we had to adapt. Audiences expected electronic sounds, but we still stayed true to our sound. At first, the music was just to cater to Cape Verdean immigrants, but soon, people of Napoli especially started feeling it, then Rome.”

The eighteen tracks on Synthesize the Soul also tell the story of the influence of modern and relatively expensive electronic instruments on a culture with a proud tradition of native songwriting. You can still hear the gallop and the impeccable mastery of Cape Verde’s traditional melodies integrated with what even then must have seemed like a canny retro-futurism, even if it wasn’t expressed. “Astro-Atlantic Hypnotica” is a pretty fair tagline: what begins with something as simple as an organ solo is augmented by whistles carried on a cosmic breeze. I’m not nearly conversant on the music of Cape Verde to give you a critical history here, but in terms of scrambling together a movement, Ostinato deserves credit for this one.

Synthesize the Soul: Astro-Atlantic Hypnotica from the Cape Verde Islands 1973-1988 (Ostinato Records)

1. Nhú De Ped´Bia – Nós Criola 05:15
2. Pedrinho – Nanda 04:51
3. Tulipa Negra – Corpo Limpo 06:24
4. Manuel Gomes – Jelivrà Bo Situaçon 02:59
5. Val Xalino – Dança Dança T’Manche 05:29
6. Jovino Dos Santos – Bo Ta Cool 03:40
7. Abel Lima – Farmacia 04:12
8. Elisio Gomes & Joachim Varela – Chuma Lopes 05:28
9. Narciso “Tchiss” Lopes – É Bô Problema 03:27
10. Americo Brito – Babylon 79 03:30
11. José Casimiro – Djozinho Cabral 05:06
12. Nho Balta – Posse Bronck 02:24
13. Kola – Lameirao 05:18
14. Cabo Verde Show – Nova Coladeira 03:29
15. Tam Tam 2000 – Melhor Futuro 03:49
16. Pedrinho – Chema 03:11
17. Dionisio Maio – Mie Fogo 03:46
18. Bana – Canta Cu Alma Magoada 03:35


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