Exotic, intriguing, faraway sounds

Samy Ben Redjeb’s Analog Africa is a Frankfurt-based record company that’s put out eight amazing albums. Each one draws on the golden age of independence-era West African music—and the label’s ninth release, Angola Soundtrack: The Unique Sound of Luanda 1968–1976, may be its strongest to date.

The 18 tracks you’ll find here mix and match any number of idioms. (“A powerful confluence of traditional rhythms from Luanda’s islands, psychedelic guitar sounds imported from neighboring Congo, Latin grooves, old school Caribbean merengue and the hard beat of the Angolan carnival bands conspired to create the modern music of Angola,” Redjeb explains on the label’s website.) The liner notes are painstakingly researched—Redjeb flew to Angola and conducted the background interviews himself—and engrossing. But the songs speak for themselves, in or out of context; they’re delicate, danceable, tinged with a sadness that owes something to the Portuguese fado, and totally impossible to dismiss.

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