Tallinn Music Week
Batida is on fire.
Pedro Coquenão, a radio, video and music producer born in Huambo, Angola and raised in the suburbs of Lisbon, is throwing a party with some really heavy duty, heavy manners party content.
What Pedro takes to each stage are elements (beats, bass, vocals, percussions, dances and video) represented by artists that he admires.Started in 2007 as Pedro’s Radio Show, Batida is not a band but on stage is a rolling line up of various people and players, mixing electronica with samples from the 60s and 70s Angolan music and playing it live tonight with a full line up that included a great rhythm section and two women singer/dancers who add a genuine vibrancy and texture to the overall sound with a selection of masks and dancing.
Batida perform in a large converted warehouse on the edge of the Tallinn city Centre that is yet again packed and leaves you wondering just how many people live in this small country with the overwhelming support they give to the diverse spread of music on offer.
Batida, in many ways, sum up the spirit of Tallinn Music Week which is fast becoming the best event of its kind in Europe and the new leader in ideas, innovation and action in this future now kind of conference thinking. The gig is delivered with a brilliant imagination and intelligence and the flux between trad Angola and modern electronic music and the direct communication of hip hop is a great fusion that cranks the past into the future without either discipline losing its edge. The huge converted warehouse venue is totally packed with Estonian youth – some of the most enthusiastic audiences you will get to see – who seem to have the ability to embrace classical music at one moment and Batida’s potent brew of hip hop, shimmering Angolan music, fractured beats and deep dub bass into a new music all of his own.
Batida turn the room into a huge party with songs of humanity and defiance and put paid to that boring notion thrown around by older people that music has no political and social content any more. There is one astonishing section in the middle when Pedro Coquenão stands on the stage on his own and tells the audience about the political situation in Angola and the suppression of thought and ideas to a silenced house – to break up a party like they have been delivering to make this kind of impassioned speech is both bold and thrilling and reminds you instantly of the power of music to both entertain and deliver a message of hope and defiant anger at the hateful fools who try and crush the human spirit.
It also helps if you have a set of songs like this. These are delightful and throbbing pieces of 21st Africa plus Europe flavored music. Crossing the continental bridge and joining the continents, this is not the museum piece of the African music we have loved for decades but an embracing of the technology of the now and the cross pollination of musical styles and the fusion of ideas that have always made music great. Batida to do all this and create a party atmosphere with perfect dance beats of electronic music fused with traditional home country breaks that remind me of Angola’s electronic Kuduro music and the sense of space and adventure of dub.
Batida know how to put on a show, Pedro Coquenão, is a charismatic presence and flanked by the two woman singer/dancers who deliver vocal parts and shimmy and dance across the stage sometimes twirling umbrellas or throwing plastic whistles into the crowd to blow on one song create a joyful yet agit pop celebration. One song is built around a looped sample of the bass line from the Clash’s Radio Clash – you can see Joe Strummer smiling now – God bless his rebel soul – he would have been in love with Pedro and his ever evolving collection of performers who combine the multi ethnic, melting pot of musical ideas and causes that were so dear to his heart in a mesmerizing musical whole.