Tropical Music
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Amélia Muge was born in Mozambique in 1952 but has lived in Portugal since 1984. She learned not only singing but also the piano, the viola braguesa -- a traditional guitar from Portugal's Braga region -- and popular percussion instruments. Besides her own recordings Múgica, Todos os Dias, Taco a taco and today's A Monte, she's worked with Julio Pereira's band and recorded the live album Maio Maduro Maio with José Mário Branco and João Afonso. She's collaborated on others with the Italian formation Terras di Canto, the Bulgarian Pirin Folk Ensemble and the Spanish Camerata Meiga. She composes songs and music for theater, poetry, television and radio shows, among the latter the soundtrack for the play Caminhos Encobertos Marzinhos Descobertos which earned her a critics award. She's penned lyrics for Mísia and Camané, produced Mafalda Arnauth's latest album, authored "O Girassol", a book of children's stories, and "Muipiti Ilha de Moaçambique", a book on the history of Mozambique Island.

2002's A Monte (on the run) is the outcome of a multi-media show originally presented at Fórum Municipal de Almada and Fórum do Seixal. It sets to music poems by famous Portuguese and Brazilian writers, including Nobel-prize winner José Saramago and Carlos Drummond de Andrade. It employs a colorful ensemble of guitar, woodwinds, Galician bagpipe, percussion, accordion and electronics and the resultant collection of 17 songs is completely divorced from even the most ambitious Nouveau Fado or Fado Fusion expectations. Thus happily disconnected from the usual Amalia Rodrigues legacy concerns, it presents a far more modern, sometimes even experimental take on Portuguese song with a strong Afro-Brazilian vibe.

From the twisted tango of "The Garment of the Pharisees" to the Samba-inflected "Para Cinquentões"; from the vocal percussion/soft-Rap funk of "A Garpa do Macao/Monkey's Paws" to the country waltz of "Mamundo" intersecting with deconstructionist percussion-driven elements; the popular Portuguese obsession with Fado finds gratification only in "The Mermaid's Song/O Fado Da Sereia". And while A Monte lacks a central or overriding stylistic thread, being more of a collective gallery event wherein different voices and personalities join a common call with their unique musical commentaries and viewpoints, it's a powerful documentary by a very influential, broad-minded Portuguese poetress/vocalist on the cutting edge of Lusofonian songwriting.