The Cape Verdean acoustic sounds of the Ano Nobo quartet
Vik Sohonie, founder of Ostinato Records, gives us some information about his upcoming release ‘The Strings of São Domingos’ by The Ano Nobo Quartet.
In 1989, as the Berlin Wall crumbled before the eyes of the world, a burly soldier from Cape Verde stood on the East German side. Nicknamed “The Bruto” or “The Brute” because of his “brutally” guitar prowess, Paschal watched the end of an era in full uniform, the ever-devoted soldier. As a member of FARP, the armed wing of Cabo Verde’s Soviet-backed independence struggle, Pascoal was sent around the world, from Cuba to Crimea to East Berlin.
Being stationed in Cuba gave him access to a world of guitar music. His stays in the Caribbean and the Crimean peninsula rubbed shoulders with soldiers from elsewhere in Portuguese-speaking Africa and from the former colonized world. Not required on the battlefield, these military assignments become cultural gatherings and, quite simply, jam sessions, where sounds and techniques are exchanged.
Today, with other guitar maestros, Fany, Nonoand AfricanPascoal leads The Ano Nobo Quartet, named after Cabo Verde’s most legendary composer, Ano Nobo, Pascoal’s mentor and father of the rest of the band. Until today, Ano Nobo’s face adorns murals across the archipelago.
Pascoal in the 1970sPhoto courtesy of Pascoal.
Ostinato Records dove deep into the sound of this group of 11 islands floating 400 miles off the West African coast. Compilations like Synthesizing the Soul, Leite Quente Funanáand Pour me a toddy provided three chapters of Cabo Verde’s history: the synthesized dance music of the 1980s, the sound of the 1990s diaspora in Europe and the heavy accordion sound of Funaná, all born on the same island of Santiago.
But the Covid-19 pandemic called for a departure in the fourth chapter. Another story had to be told. Pascoal is a soldier, able to overcome difficulties, adapt and stay focused. In short, the man leading a pandemic-era registration that demanded a shorter registration period to reduce transmission risks, as well as stark 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 sound and the guitar of a lighter spirit, but to the rich history of Pascoal’s life shaped by the Cold War and the legacy of Ano nobo. But these morsels are not your traditional Koladera, the original recipe first concocted on Fogo Island and popularized by Cesaria Evora.
the Ano Nobo Quartet‘s Koladera is a global story with Cabo Verde at its center, a Creole melting pot in the middle of the Atlantic attracting the best from four continents: hypnotic and haunting guitars of Koladera inflected with accents of Salsa Cubano, Spanish Flamenco, Brazilian Samba Canção, Jamaican Reggae, Argentinian tango, Mozambican marrabenta and finished with a touch of black American blues. Everything is here. Pascoal even picked up some notes from a group of Chinese guitarists – a traditional instrument in China resembles the cavaquinho – who arrived during a socialist cultural exchange in Cape Verde. Absent from the percussion, the sound of the quartet is still dripping with rhythm.
This album was recorded in three locations on the island of Santiago: in Pascoal’s house in São Domingos, Ano Nobo’s small hometown that sits amidst the cascading hills of the countryside; in an isolated and remote recording space in the north of the island; and near the cove of the north beach of Santiago without electricity. Each location used a mobile recording studio equipped with different microphones placed near and far to capture both the Spanish and Chinese guitars and the natural surroundings that shape the saudade, a melancholy longing, of Koladera. Each space has its own atmosphere heard in the interludes.
The first voyage in our new Ostinato Acoustics series, the Ano Nobo Quartet confirms that humanity is at its best when we break down life into its essential parts and basic simplicity. A sound and approach from the depths of personal and world history that compels us to seek more humble paths in the years to come and hold the delicate yet sharp, serene yet swaying strings of São Domingos as a soundtrack to go out of a brutal time, guided by brutally good music from brutally good guitarists.