The roots of Angolan popular music are explored in the guitar studies of Mário Rui Silva on Stories From Another Time 1982-1988, featuring the best of his little-known 1980s albums – thanks to Time Capule, these treasures are now being critically acclaimed across the music community, this is a must-have from this scholarly label. Silva – guitarist, researcher and intellectual – had a diverse range of influences, from traditional Angolan and West African rhythms to European jazz and classical instrumentation.
“Born in Luanda, Angola in 1953, Mário dedicated his life to Angolan popular music. His 50-year career has seen him live between Angola and Europe, rub shoulders with Cameroonian musicians Francis Bebey and Ewanjé, record the seminal album Angola ’72 with fellow Angolan musician Bonga, and draw influence from Brazilian guitarist Baden Powell,” the label documents. It features truly mesmerising acoustic ballads and hypnotic groove-led tracks, it’s expanse and depth reminds of the label’s previous retrospective of Gratien Midonet, along with other sonic touchstones in the Time Capsule catalogue.
This exceptional music is for fans of the other-worldly strains of Brazilian luminaries like Naná Vasconcelos, or the otherworldly sounds of Milton Nascimento & Lô Borges; Uruguayan Eduardo Mateo; sound explorers, such as Laraaji or the places on John Hassell’s Fourth World; even Cameroonian electronic music visionary Francis Bebey – it really is that varied and sumptuous.
The selection from Mário’s three 1980s albums, Sung’Ali (1982), Tunapenda Afrika (1985) and Koizas dum Outru Tempu (1988) have been compiled on a 2xLP release by Time Capsule’s Sam Jacob and Kay Suzuki. Together, the duo’s documentation, selection and dedication to this artist provides a voyage to the core of Angolan music and a nation’s culture uprooted by colonialism and subsequent instability.
“It is united by a sense of low-key beauty, whether on the chugging opener Kazum-zum-zum, the jazz-funk keys of Lembrança Dum Velho, or the twinkling, late-night poly-rhythms of Kizomba Kya Kisanji,” the duo explains.
“It was the teaching of Angolan legend and Ngola Ritmos co-founder Liceu Vieira Dias that Mário gained a technical, political and spiritual understanding of Angolan musical culture. In the hands of Liceu, the traditional Angolan semba and kazukuta rhythms of the 1940s and ‘50s helped create an emancipatory sense of national pride and collective agency that awakened its listeners to the racism and tyranny of colonial rule, underpinning the country’s push for independence in the process.”
Mário attributes [what might sound like the intonations of Brazilian influence] are “African rhythms taken by the slaves [which] gave rise to other musical cultures” worldwide.
“Instead, this music emerged from a collective instinct to assert a cosmopolitan Angolan identity free from the patronising falsehoods of Lusotropicalism.”
There was a need within me to contribute in doing new things,” Mário describes. “In the sense of solidifying the music of Angola that was the result of the meeting of two cultures, and wanting to value the Angolan part whenever possible.”
The resulting music is essential, available again, making this one of the compilations of the year so far – it’s another inspired choice by the label, finding more music that sounds beautiful, pure and exceptional in 2021. Kazum-zum-zum is the highlight for many so far, being the first digital single. This lo-fi Balearic folk gem is drenched in proto-machine-funk, as Silva experiements and shines in his seeming solitude, with it’s soul-stirring lyrics and melancholly. All of the musical journeys made by Silva make this collection so, so outstanding.