Album Review: Let Drum Beat – Lua Cheia [February 2020]

Let Drum Beat’s debut album –  Lua Cheia – was recorded in the Navegas Cantareira Studio housed within a tropical forest in Brazil. The London based all female group consisting of Alba Cabral, Béa Shantifa, Lizzie Ogle and Tuca Milan have created an album that is charming and simmering with energy. A beautiful take on folk and Afro-Brazilian music with a London flair that not only has deep appreciation for the music they are influenced by in Brazil, but also for the other influences from the band, which breathe life into the music.

Dotted throughout the album is a musical calm that is bursting with energy, carried through by the collective vocals of the band members. The rabeca in ‘Forró’ mixed with electric bass is soothing and that is representative of how the album feels. The musical influence and sonic structures are vast and fall between the familiar social gathering of a roda, pandeiros, clapping, beautiful vocals, ukulele, and the eclectic sounds of rabeca, fused with electric bass and dub synths. Let Drum Beat falls seamlessly between the two, mixing high production and energy in a beautiful way.

The songs are delightfully varied while still retaining the soft, yet energetic, calm of the album. During ‘Guarará’ a song for the orixa Elegua and one which is soft and beautiful in turn, the music turns like waves slowly hitting a shore. With bells and drums and soundscapes through small percussion instruments, they not only convey music but social styles that their pieces inherit traditions from. The album also has spicy elements, like ‘Tumaracatu’, which feature the heavy alfaias of maracatu, where the energy is compulsive and strong. At other times, they have bright guitars and driving drums all being held by vocals. When the alfaia rhythms punctuate, the album takes on a dreamy and grounded approach like in ‘Boi da Ladeira’.

The Lua Cheia album is soft and groovy, and based strongly on traditional North East Brazilian music and that of the Tupi-Guarani indigenous communities in South East Brazil. All the artists in Let Drum Beat list individual backgrounds, and take these musical traditions in new directions that are both energetic, and comfortably enjoyable.