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Hernani Almeida has released a second album called “Caalma”

A magical acoustic experience – this is what Cape-Verdean guitarist, Hernani Almeida, offers the listener of his second solo album – ingeniously entitled: “Caalma” or “Caalm” – the second “a” having been added to emphasize this invitation to unwind. The album was recorded at Le Studio Mindelo by Jorge Nunes and Hernani Almeida and consists of twelve songs; eleven by the guitarist and one by Biús, a simple tribute to the young Cape Verdean musician who died in 2009.

The journey starts with the first song, also entitled “Caalma”… The mood is set… Velvety, captivating and spellbinding, it displays from the start the virtuosity of Hernani.

One is bound to be surprised at first, after all this is not what you would expect from a young Cape Verdean guitarist! Very soon however, one is taken by what Hernani calls “music surrealism”. And surreal his music can be. Think of a musical Dali, Goya or Miro… A patchwork audio painting, mixing different sounds, atmospheres and rhythms. Away from Cape Verde’s traditional tocatinhas and high pinched guitar cords, Hernani’s music is like mittens for your ears and most definitely cutting edge!

Hernani Almeida

Further into the album, the track numbers four “Maskrinha” and seven “Espera Verde Djga” are like two exclamation marks!! Audacious and lilting, these songs remind us of Hernani’s origins and passion for his continent – Africa. Indeed, one can hear the African drums in the background; the traditional Cape Verdean rhythms take centre stage in a beautiful and harmonious way. Batuku, soul and jazz make friends on those tracks, a revolutionary concept!

Hernani AlmeidaHernani has already experimented with mixing more traditional African rhythms and other sounds for his first “love child” as he likes to call it, his first album entitled “Afro na Mi”. A disc which shows according to him his Africaness, allowing him to “explore and expose” what he observes in Africa. Hernani the Afro-centrist touches a sensitive nerve in Cape Verde… Indeed one has to bear in mind that Cape Verde is a “mestizo” society, with seventy-eight percent of the population being Creole. The culture of the islands is a unique mixture of European and African elements and national identity is somewhat fragmented, mainly as a result of geographical division of the islands. Generally speaking, the northern, or barlavento islands tend to identify more with Portugal, whereas the southern or “sotavento” islands (Santiago in particular) have a strong sense of affiliation to Africa – a special fondness for everything that reminds them of the first African slaves who were shipped to their islands.

Hernani declared to the press a few days after the release of “Afro na Mi” that he simply chooses to identify with Africa and that he wants to explore that side of Africa that he has in him. Therefore, “Afro na Mi” he said is “like [his] Africaness put on disc”.

Hernani Almeida

Born and bred on the island of Sao Vicente, his first musical encounters were with local musicians. Aged seven, he was offered a little keyboard but very soon, young Hernani replaced it with a guitar, his instrument of choice.

In 1994, he formed a rock band “What”, immediately catching the attention of famous Cape Verdean artists, for instance the renowned Gerard Mendes (Boy G.),who invited him on his European tour, followed by artists Sara Tavares, Tcheka and Mayra Andrade .

In 1997 he recorded two albums with Bau – Cesaria Evora’s former guitarist – before playing alongside Malian super star Habib Koité. Other international collaborations have followed, further enriching his musical spectrum. Over the past few years, we saw Hernani sharing the stage with French DJ Frederic Galliano, hip-hop artists Switch and Tony from Paris, Modeste from Madagascar and Brazilian song smith Lenine. Hernani has more recently performed at Sao Vicente’s annual festival “Baia das Gatas” and has been featured on countless television interviews.

Still, when I asked him what his greatest source of inspiration was, he did not mention his past experiences or his country but Nature!

“Mother Nature inspires me. I want to share with people. Be as generous with them as Mother Nature is with us everyday. Let’s all become more appreciative. How can we be bitter, when Mother Nature is so sweet? We should wake up every morning, open our windows and let the sun illuminate our homes. We should never forget that the sand loves to feel our small feet walking all over its skin!”

Not an easy task trying to capture “Nature’s nature” with notes and instruments but this is the task Hernani has set for himself. The artist bids us “to listen to [his] music with [our] hearts”. Musical visualization, this is what we need to understand his music and appreciate all its subtleties!

So, sit back, relax and take in the full spectrum of Hernani’s musical creativity.

To find out more about Hernani Almeida, go to: www.hernanicv.com or www.myspace.com/hernani1978