In American-born producer Maga Bo's world, the berimbau — a type of bow native to Brazil — becomes an element in a time-traveling collage of organic sounds. On his new album, Quilombo do Futuro, vibrating strings, booming drumheads and vocal melodies that might go back centuries coexist with rhythmic sound effects and club-friendly beats.
Maga Bo records traditional artists playing capoeira, coco, samba, maculele and other rootsy Brazilian genres. Then he constructs spacious layered mixes that sound modern, but keep the indigenous sounds in the foreground. In "Immigrant Visa Part II," for example, racing snare-drum rhythms provide the backing for a dancehall vocal by MC Zulu.
In "Xororo," Maga Bo incorporates the pendulous rhythms of the Brazilian northeast, once excluded from the country's popular culture. Hear the sensual, seductive groove, and you'll understand why the region's music has become a sensation among Brazilian music fans in recent years.
The word quilombo in the album title originally referred to an autonomous community established by runaway slaves in colonial Brazil. Quilombos were places of both physical and spiritual refuge. By calling this album Quilombo do Futuro — the quilombo of the future — Maga Bo defines a kind of virtual refuge for traditional culture, giving it a welcome place in the techy global music soundscape of the 21st century.