Histórias da Casa Velha

by Carlos Lamartine

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about

Histórias da Casa Velha is a collection of songs released in Angola, mainly during the years leading to independence in 1975. In the 1960s and 1970s, Carlos Lamartine was one of the leading voices in the struggle against the Portuguese, and this collection highlights the difficulties and victories of the liberation movements he was a part of.

Lamartine plays semba, a typically Angolan genre rooted in traditional carnival rhythms, such as kilapanga, rebita, kazukuta and kabetula. In semba, much of the rhythm is not carried by drums, but instead by guitars, allowing the music to develop more complex chords, some of them borrowed from the Portuguese's rich melodic heritage.

Semba and Brazilian samba share common roots, however neither derives from the other: both appeared as they are today at the beginning of the 20th century, at a time when there was extremely limited exchange between Brazil and Angola. However both words come from the Kimbundu language, and both are rooted in the rhythms of present day Angola and the Democratic Congo.

This collection reflects the originality and rhythmic diversity of Angolan music, as well as its social and political roots in pre-independence Angola. Behind every one of these songs, there is a tragedy, and the tacit acceptance of a troubled history. But beyond traditional fatalism, these songs also display hope and Angola's then continuous fight for freedom. Times have changed, particularly in Angola, yet this music and its message remain timeless and universal.

Carlos Lamartine began his career when he joined pianist Sousa Júnior's band from 1956 to 1958. Along with Bonga, he then co-founded the Kissuela band. After the group dissolved, he briefly joined Os Mulogues do Ritmo as tambourine player and backup singer. By 1965, Lamartine was a lead singer playing with Luanda's finest orchestras. In 1970, he became lead singer for Os Aguias Reais, a group considered one of the best of that era.

From 1973 to 1977, he again performed as an individual singer, backed up by famed orchestra Os Merengues, led by Carlitos Vieira Días, son of Carlos Vieira Días, founder of Ngola Ritmos, the group that paved the way for political semba in the 1950s.

Histórias da Casa Velha has been released in Angola, with support from the Angolan ministry of culture. It is available worldwide for the first time, in this remastered version.

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released 18 August 2009

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