Charanga’s Tributo’ó Ti Tobias is a peculiar kind of tribute album. Styled as a musical homage paid to an 'Uncle Tobias', a sort of older everyman, the album pays tribute to the long history of Portuguese folk music that has come before it. However, this isn’t the pristine folk of ethnomusicologists or world music connoisseurs but the lively tradition of summer village parties with cheesy uptempo beats and corny lyrics played by stocky mustachioed men and scantily-clad ladies. Charanga's use of such pimba music (essentially a Portuguese version of schlager) is as jarring as it is tender: their message is not political as such, but it does evoke a particularly inclusive concept of Portuguese folk music that encompasses a vast terrain of instruments and traditions, from bagpipes to synthesizers.
Admittedly, perhaps it was this expectation of what tradition should sound like that made Tributo’ó Ti Tobias a somewhat challenging listen at first. But the album quickly grew on me, from the hilarious opening track “Grelinhos da Charanga” (a bizarre ode-to-the-kitchen consisting essentially of the enumeration of the base items of Portuguese culinary life: bean soup, codfish, potatoes and chickpeas) to the delicate Spanish-Portuguese “Rapsódia do Pandeiro”, and “Charanga da Carolina”, a synth-pop version of a well-loved children’s tune. Charanga presents musical tradition as it actually is, a grand mixture of old and new shared cultural references, the anticipation of hearty meals, and the promise of more music to come. - Rosa Vieira de Almeida
Find the band online.