The outernational sound of Buraka Som Sistema

off the beaten track

Buraka Som Sistema is one the most striking examples of clever networking and global reach by a band from a peripheral country. However, you get nowhere with a bad product. But this gang of four lads from Lisbon with African origins had the right thing to offer – Music. “Off The Beaten Track” tells the story of four lads who began mixing a myriad of elements from African beats to contemporary modern dance sounds, spiced up with electronic beats and how they helped spread the sound of Kuduro which had just been born in the urban areas of Luanda, Angola’s capital. It is also the story of probably the Portuguese band with the greatest international achievement so far.


Living in a Lisbon suburb with a huge African population that took to Portugal particularly after the seventies, Branki, Riot, Kalaf and Conductor grew in the Portuguese capital, a city that has always been open to foreign sounds and with a rather discreet but lively scene open to new punk and breakbeat, indie rock and hip hop, funk and rave, techno and trance, and with clubbing hotspots in the old neighborhood of Bairro Alto and in some dance cathedrals close to the  river. All these new sounds, combined with African sounds particularly from Angola and Cape Verde delivered the right ingredients and helped Buraka Som Sistema to come up the right recipe.


“From Buraka to the World”, the first EP the band recorded in 2006 had it all. Sung in Portuguese, the whole thing had nevertheless a global sound. Portugal, the country that had discovered the world in the 1500’s now had a band cleverly mixing and putting together influences from all the corners of the world. It didn’t take much for the international media, DJs, musicians, festivals and music industry to look at this sound. The band soon began playing in major cities from Lisbon to Luanda, Barcelona, Paris, London, India, Caracas. Diplo, M.I.A., Santigold or Skream were some of the names that quickly succumbed to the sound of these lads from Lisbon, having worked with the band on record and in live shows.


Seven years after the first EP, followed by the release of  ‘Black Diamond’ in 2009, and ‘Komba’ in 2011, the band now has a true odyssey to tell. ‘Off The Beaten Track’ is the documentary on the glorious journey of Buraka Som Sistema, the tale on how they conquered the dancefloors of the world, always returning to Portugal where they still live. The documentary is directed by João Pedro Moreira who has worked with the band on ‘Hangover (BaBaBa) and ‘Sound of Kuduro and the first screenings are scheduled for October in London, Berlin, Amsterdam and Leuven. As for a new record, it will see the light in the early months of 2014. “off The Beatn Track” is thus a good opportunity to see the energy released by the makers of powerful tracks such as “Kalemba (Wegue Wegue)”, “(We Stay UP) All Night” and the brilliant “Restless”.

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