Boomkat Product Review:
Dancefloor-ready survey of golden era sounds from the Portuguese-speaking West African islands. A great history lesson for anyone gripped by the influential, contemporary club music of Lisbon’s Príncipe label!
“The two Portuguese-speaking African islands of Sao Tomé & Principe, located in the Gulf of Guinea, created an unique music called Puxa : a refined mixture of various musical components from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. A blend of Semba, Merengue, Kompas, Soukouss, Coladeira patterns, often pushing forward with a voodoo-like energy, solid bass lines, delicate melodies and backing harmonies of the rich Sao Tomean melodic traditions. Very first compilation focusing on the golden age of these island’s sounds, the 16 tracks selected will surely set fire on all dance floors !
Léve-Léve is the first ever compilation devoted to music from São Tome and Principe, two small islands situated off the coast of Gabon in central Africa. The album unravels a story of liberation where the music of Africa, Europe and the Americas unify with a carefree spirit personified by a phrase the islanders use all the time: “léve, léve” (“take it easy”). With echoes of Angolan semba and merengue, of Brazilian afoxê, of coladeira from Cape Verde and dance music from the Caribbean, it is a sound fiercely proud of its island heritage, sung in local dialects and using distinctive local rhythms.
On this record you can hear the cultural and social history of São Tome and Principe, and how live music represented its beating heart. Once known as the “Chocolate Islands” (remarkably, these two tiny islands were the largest cocoa producers in the world, though now this title acts as a reminder of its colonial past), through the years leading up to independence from Portugal, music would be a fundamental voice of liberation and conviviality. Os Úntués were one of the first groups to make an impression, releasing a couple of 7 inches in Angola – the litmus test of success for any of the islands’ groups. They united unique rhythms and dances like socopé, puita and dança-congo – borne from the islands’ largely slave-descendant population – with the sound of pop music beamed in on the radio from Europe, even adding in a little bit of soukous and Brazilian instrumentation. Their main rivals were Conjunto Mindelo, who fused São Toméan rhythms with rebita, an Angolan style, to create high energy puxa, a truly original island rhythm.”