Ostinato announces new album by quartet Ano Nobo
In 1989, as the Berlin Wall crumbled before the eyes of the world, a beefy soldier from Cabo Verde stood on the East German side. Nicknamed “El Bruto” or “The Brute” due to his “brutally” good guitar prowess, Pascoal watched the end of an era in uniform, the ever-devoted soldier. As a member of the FARP, the armed wing of the struggle for the independence of Cape Verde, which was supported by the Soviet Union, Pascoal was sent all over the world, from Cuba to the Crimea via Berlin- East.
Being stationed in Cuba gave him access to a world of guitar music. His stays in the Caribbean and the Crimean Peninsula were alongside soldiers from elsewhere in Portuguese-speaking Africa and in the former colonized world. Useless on the battlefield, these military assignments became cultural gatherings and, quite simply, jam sessions, where sounds and techniques were exchanged.
Today, along with other guitar maestros, Fany, Nono and Afrikanu, Pascoal conducts the Ano Nobo quartet, named after Cape Verde’s most legendary composer, Ano Nobo, Pascoal’s mentor and father of the rest of the group. Until today, the face of Ano Nobo adorns the murals of the archipelago.
Ostinato Records dove deep into the sound of this 11-island group floating 400 miles off the West African coast. Critically acclaimed compilations such as Synthesize the Soul, Leite Quente Funaná and Pour Me A Grog have provided three chapters in the history of Cabo Verde: the synthesized dance music of the 1980s, the sound of the diaspora of the 1990s in Europe and the heavy sound of the Funaná accordion, all born on the same island. from Santiago.
But the Covid-19 pandemic called for a start in the fourth chapter. Another story needed to be told. Pascoal is a soldier, able to overcome hardships, adapt and keep his eyes clear. In short, the man leading a registration in an era of pandemic that demanded a shorter registration period to reduce the risk of transmission, as well as steep restrictions and limitations on gatherings and venues recording.
The Strings of São Domingos is not only a tribute to Koladera, or Coladeira, a subtly rhythmic guitar sound, with a lighter spirit, but to Pascoal’s rich history shaped by the Cold War and the legacy of ‘Ano Nobo. But these tracks are not your traditional Koladera, the original recipe first concocted on the island of Fogo and popularized by Cesaria Evora.
The Ano Nobo Quartet’s Koladera is a global story with Cape Verde at its center, a Creole melting pot in the middle of the Atlantic attracting the best of four continents: hypnotic and bewitching Koladera guitars tinged with twangs of Cuban salsa, flamenco Spanish, Brazilian samba. Canção, Jamaican reggae, Argentine tango, Mozambican marrabenta, and ended with a hint of American black blues. Everything is here. Pascoal even picked up a few notes from a group of Chinese guitarists – a traditional instrument in China resembles the cavaquinho – who arrived during a socialist cultural exchange in Cabo Verde. In the absence of percussion, the sound of the quartet is still dripping with rhythm.
This album was recorded in three places on the island of Santiago: in Pascoal’s house in São Domingos, the small hometown of Ano Nobo which sits among the cascading hills of the countryside; in a remote and isolated recording space in the north of the island; and near the cove of the north beach of Santiago without any electricity. Each location used a mobile recording studio equipped with different microphones placed from near and far to capture both Spanish and Chinese-made guitars and the natural environment that shapes Koladera’s melancholy longing saudade. Each space has its own atmosphere heard in the interludes.
The maiden voyage of our new Ostinato Acoustics series, The Ano Nobo Quartet, confirms that humanity is at its best when we break life down into its essential parts and basic simplicity. A sound and approach drawn from the depths of personal and global history that compels us to seek more humble paths in the years to come and to hold the delicate but sharp, serene but swaying strings of São Domingos as the soundtrack to come out of it. ‘a brutal era, guided by brutally good music from brutally good guitarists.