The first thing that strikes you when hearing “Nosso” is its feeling of intimacy and warmth. The title, which means “Ours” in Portuguese, is apt since he sees the record as the result of letting a wild variety of people into his world. João notes that “I didn’t know most of the collaborators before meeting up with them in a studio somewhere in the world, so most of these songs are coming from a very immediate and honest sense of collaboration where you spend an afternoon with someone learning about each other at the same time as you’re making music. It’s a shared experience, a moment where two or more people came up with ideas together, that they probably wouldn’t have had if they were in their comfort zone.” These meetings were turned into songs at home in Lisbon once the main ideas were created collaboratively elsewhere.
“On this album, like in everything else I did so far, the focus on the instrumental side of things was experimenting with rhythmic patterns and genres from the Portuguese-speaking universe while applying them to songs created with other artists from completely different backgrounds and places.” There’s something in this process that has left the album sounding super fresh as this is a sound without borders that pulls you in. It’s music everyone can be a part of, where even the most rugged up-tempo cut sounds welcoming. It’s an overwhelmingly positive and joyous experience to immerse yourself in “Nosso.” It’s no wonder that the central motif of the album artwork shows a less common view of Lisbon, one where instead of looking at the historic city centre we face the suburbs, where these musical and cultural experiments have been and still are occurring, undeniably shaping the musical and cultural landscape of Lisbon in the process.
As much a soul record as it is a record infused with the beats of the Portuguese-speaking world, “Nosso” is a reflection of Branko’s ongoing musical explorations and his vision of Lisbon as a privileged cultural hub for the Portuguese-speaking world and beyond. Branko fuses local rhythms from kizomba to baile funk and afrohouse through European electronic genres with a clear accessible pop sensibility and the aim of creating a unified sound that puts all these individual musical expressions in perspective as part of a greater whole.
For João, this is the logical next step in his musical evolution. To the many Buraka Som Sistema fans he would say that he’s making music using the same principles but with a greater reflection of his personal taste and in collaboration with a wide range of “global agitators and artists to create songs and fusions that might point out new musical directions.” His trips from São Paulo to Lima to Cidade da Praia (Cabo Verde) and beyond have given him a new joy and a new hope. This is one of the reasons you can hear so many languages on this album. It’s reaching across those hard borders and showing us through action that we all have more in common with each other than we may think. The end result of Branko’s experiments is a brilliantly crafted record that is like a full deep breath of fresh air, a belief in optimism in the world, optimism about difference, optimism about collaboration, joy in unity. Take down the borders in your mind and enter the sound of Lisbon 2019.
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