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There is a short, sharp blast of energy in this brief music documentary by DJ Rita Maia and cinematographer Vasco Viana about the African-Portuguese music scene in Lisbon’s outer suburbs, the “corrugated villages” that appeared after the 1970s. It is not quite right to call this ghetto culture; the milieu is more nuanced and complicated than that in terms of nationality, race, generation and class, although it is certainly pretty male.
The music is an engaging mix of digital and analogue, new and old. A lot of it comes from DJs with MacBook Pros and music-editing software who play marathon-length parties. A lot more comes from traditional instruments such as a ferrinho, an instrument lying over the shoulder like a length of steel that produces a weirdly hypnotic thrumming noise, and a kora, a 22-string instrument from west Africa that has been used for hundreds of years.
The film shows that the current culture evolved from Lisbon’s vibrant vinyl record industry, which was also exported to countries in Africa. For Maia and Viana, making a film about music is a great way into people’s hearts and minds, a royal road, perhaps, to both the conscious and unconscious mind.
The documentary is about identity, with many of the participants hassled over visa and residency issues, but also about creativity, hedonism and fun. It is perhaps a bit too brief to investigate its ideas fully, but there’s food for thought here.
• Lisbon Beat is released in the UK on 19 July.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Lisbon Beat review – energetic musical odyssey to the city’s edge | Music documentary