Waitless (Poo Productions PPLCD002, 2006)
I came late to Poo Productions other CD release, the superb 2006 album Bumping by Mozambique’s Massukos, so forgive my slowness in picking up on this one as well. Empty Boat is a U.K.-based, multiethnic collective of players and singers whose rousing blend includes a heap of influences from Africa, Latin America and Europe. They toured Mozambique with Massukos in 2004, bringing both music and an effort to increase awareness of hygienic conditions throughout Africa, particularly where a lack of clean water is concerned (a cause to which Poo Productions is dedicated). It’s a theme that’s reflected throughout Waitless: many of the lyrics speak of water or imagery related to it.
The opening track, “Agua Pura,” begins with the sound of rain before slipping into a cha-cha-cha rhythm that sets an unfailingly catchy tone for the rest of the disc, which can sound like African pop one minute and gypsy jazz the next. The songs, with vocals alternating between Portuguese and English and unusual sonic touches at every turn (thanks in part to a very wide range of instruments), swing in an almost childlike manner at times. One of the lead singers is in fact a girl who looks and sounds decidedly pre-teen.
The arrangements aren’t lacking in sophistication, though, and many a deft turn through high-energy shifts in rhythm and melody are taken. It’s all very happy-sounding but there seems to be an underlying sadness beneath some of the lighthearted feel. Perhaps it’s the intruding reality that music can only go so far in healing what ails us. No matter. Buy this CD, surrender yourself to all that’s good about it, read the translated lyrics and either smile or get misty as you see fit. In so doing, you’ll not only get to cast yourself adrift in music that seamlessly spans hemispheres, but you’ll support the good works of Poo Productions as well.
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