Music documentary

Lisbon Beat review – energetic musical odyssey at the gates of the city | Music documentary

Jhere’s a short, sharp burst of energy in this brief musical documentary by DJ Rita Maia and cinematographer Vasco Viana on the Afro-Portuguese music scene in the suburbs of Lisbon, the “wavy villages” that emerged after the 1970s It’s not quite right to call it ghetto culture; the middle is more nuanced and complicated than that in terms of nationality, race, generation, and class, though it’s certainly quite masculine.

The music is a captivating mix of digital and analog, new and old. Much of it comes from DJs with MacBook Pros and music-editing software throwing marathon parties. Much more comes from traditional instruments such as a ferrinho, a shoulder-slung instrument like a length of steel that produces an eerily hypnotic buzzing sound, and a kora, a 22-string instrument from East Africa. West that has been used for hundreds of years.

The film shows that today’s 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 to get into people’s hearts and minds, a royal road, perhaps, to the conscious and the unconscious.

The documentary is about identity, with many participants harassed by visa and residency issues, but also about creativity, hedonism and fun. It may be a little too brief to elaborate on its ideas, but there is food for thought here.

Lisbon Beat is released in the UK on July 19.