Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Angelo Barbosa, Musician, post-modernist! Post-Modern Musician?

A few days ago I was over Angelo’s house. We, the residents, were invited for an after lunch session. Magda, his wife, and their two sons were as inviting as any kind hearted people could be; that Cape Verdean-ness could be seen, culture, hospitability, comfort and all the rest. Their home was very modern in appearance and function, up on the west side of Praia where many middle class homes are being built. Long walk paths are on the making, ocean strolls are being encouraged; privacy is also being looked at. The way of living is changing for some residents, more apparent here in this section of modernization. It cemented the fact to me that aesthetics of the middle class tend to be the same. Karl Marx spoke eloquently on this, so I will not attempt, I will just say that it is almost bone chilling how things can be so similar yet never have come in to contact with each other. The difference here, which is more of an inward reality, is that many of these persons, new Middle residents, are actually not too ‘Middle.’ For some they bought land when land was at a cheaper rate and then saved, loaned and built their small scapes. Homes have not been bought outright as a sign of wealth, more as a small climb towards a comfortable stay, but it is in that stay that middle class values grow and groom themselves; it is the aesthetic I mentioned earlier.
Anyhow the reason why I am writing this section on Angelo Barbosa is not because of the zone where he lives (partly), but more the art that he makes. We, the residents, had a chance to hear his music, in his studio on the second floor of his home. It had been critict as not being Cape Verdean, but he says that his intention’s where always to challenge the music in the country, to do productions which are unique in some way. I could tell by his demeanor that he not only enjoyed his music making process but that he also liked His music. He had once told me how he stopped making music because of the lack of commitment musicians in the land have towards productivity and challenge. His argument mostly stood in the space of punctuality, that punctuality had incredible strength, it not only gets minds in contact when you want them contacted, but it also gets things done, sot they may be accessed, evaluated, etc… On that I told him that money in small, poor countries, creates punctuality, but that discussion is for another session.
Agelo’s music is very synthetic, it uses synthetic sounds; for he’s more tangibly, a key-boardist. In his music he uses the elements the keyboard provides, its manipulation of sounds at a push of a button. This instrument, when it first came out (not initially first, but in use) was a breakthrough, so much so that it revolutionized music in most third-world countries. It was not only an accessible instrument, with different levels of cost as compared to a piano, it could also perform multiple deeds single handedly; as well its manipulation of sounds could trigger immediate reactions, from sentimental to heuristic. In the compilation of songs he played for us this tool was mostly used. Its emphasis at times was a bit overpowering, insensitive to its surrounding elements, those of other instruments or the occasional singing voice. Still, the play with which he constructed the base for the sounds where very encouraging. He demonstrated an ear for improvisation much like jazz and blues. The deep use of convoluted patterns suggested exploration and innovation more so then arrogance and over-compilation. The rhythms were measured and well maintained, spots of disco and funk could be heard in the transitional inward conversations of the music. The strong synthetic mix of church organs and electric guitar was a fusion reminiscent of the end of disco era in the States; some of the music could have easily fit in that time. For this one asks if it is innovative or merely transposing ideas and thoughts. Possible answers may be the words of the first artist singing in the first track of the CD, when he spoke about black imprisoning and shackles the breaking of them and of the Future Man, the black man. These words recalled sixties spoken words of revolt and power, and for a person like myself, who mostly grew up in the States and who, as a spoken word poet, has listened to many such poems it places this particular song in a land already explored (one could always claim innocence of exploration though) but on another turn of scales some other voices on different tracks tried to adjust the space where this music was meant to function, the kreolu culture. I would have omitted such references, or would have worked on them more. They came of pleading for entry in a culture that is very critical of any contemporary inferences on its traditional values. On this matter Angelo should have followed his inhibitions and continued on challenging himself through out the process, but it seems he often skated with caution thinking of where he was and how he would be critict. His music is slightly premature, maturity is still some time away, but his direction is uniquely post-modern for a country which has yet to pass through its modern period.

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