Waldemar Bastos Renascence

Too many press releases and message board posts equate "world music” with soft, unchallenging sounds. Angolan Waldemar Bastos could be dismissed as another easy listening artist due to the smoothness of his voice and shimmer of the production, but any closer scrutiny of his new album yields an original world fusion with ingredients from South and Central Africa, Brazil, Portugal and the Caribbean. Leading a triple guitar attack, Bastos weaves an intricate, if not always entirely distinct rhythm — a little more attention to this aspect of the mix would have been welcome. After starting stiffly, things get more interesting with the soukous drive of "Agua Do Bengo,” which makes room for some wah guitar among the rhythmic spider web. "Esperanca” introduces a swooping Turkish string section overtop of an ’80s-era dancehall drum pattern, which strangely wouldn’t be out of place on a Barry White album. The song then takes a left turn into soukous egged on by an unlikely but effective tabla part. The best track should move even the strongest doubters, especially the Ragga vibe of "Pitanga Madurinha” (made even more explicit with a remix by Chaka Demus) and the Jorge Ben vibe of "Sabores De Terra.” Sometimes resilience and open-mindedness is misinterpreted as softness, but don’t make that mistake with Renascence. (Times Square)