[11 October 2010]
With the release of Oi! A Nova Musica Brasileira!, the record label Mais Um Discos tried to put together the kind of compilation of new Brazilian music that they thought should be available. All other attempts at a similar product have failed, either because they have been too reliant on artists from major record labels, or there has been a severe lack of quality control. Oi! A Nova Musica Brasileira! has just the right balance, using self-released or independent artists, and showing a supreme level of taste.
There is a diverse array of styles here, ranging from the standard pop, rock, and indie to the Brazilian styles of tropicália, frevo, and bossa nova, and onwards still to the fresh sounds of technobrega, eletromelody and manguebeat. While this means that not every song will suit everyone, the upshot is that there’s rarely a point of boredom while listening to the disc, each of its 40 tracks continuing this journey into the current state of independent music in Brazil.
Disc One represents the more familiar pop and rock-based sounds, which in their selves can be quite out there, as the opening ‘fun fair on speed’ groove of Mini Box Lunar’s “Amarelasse” proves. There are hints of influence from popular indie bands here on “Perdizes” by Do Amor, who have been compared to Vampire Weekend, and Mombojó‘s “Justamente”, which has a smooth pop melody as infectious as anything by Phoenix, but the real highlights lie in the harder-to-categorise songs. The otherworldly “Pedrinho” by Tulipa shows a singer with more soul than many of the female samba/bossa nova singers that get flung at Western audiences. “Nome Próprio” by Porcas Borboletas is a taut post-punk anthem that fails to let up over its 3 minute duration. Perhaps best of all is Lucas Santtana’s “Hold Me In”. The only English-language song on the disc, it’s a haunting folk song showing a real talent for mixing guitar-based folk music with digital effects to add depth to a song.
The second disc offers more of a dance and hip-hop oriented spin on things. There is particular focus on new styles such as ‘technobrega’ and ‘eletromelody’, which are to Northern Brazil clubs what ‘baile funk’ is in Rio. These songs are exemplified by the four songs in the middle of the disc from Belem (a city in the North of Brazil, sitting on the Amazon river). These tracks by Maderito & Joe, Pio Lobato, Gaby Amarantos, and Coletivo Rádio Cipó all show a knack for an infectious beat and insistent rhythm with a freshness that comes from naiveté and the excitement of putting their ideas to record. They make a perfect antidote to the sex-obsessed narratives currently plaguing baile funk.
The African influence in Brazilian music is represented in the menacing hip-hop of M. Takara & R. Brandão’s “Bença do Batuque” and “Samba de Pacto” by Os Ritmistas, a murky trip-hop tune in the vein of Tricky’s finest work. There are other areas of electronic music represented here, too, with the rhythmic pop of Jam Da Silva’s “Mania” paying homage to Manu Dibango’s “Soul Makossa”. Not wanting to spread their net too narrow, there are some songs here that are just too hard to describe. “Ossario” by Instituto is a potent jazz opus with a grandness that equals the Cinematic Orchestra. The final track of the album; “Cá” by Júlia Says, is a delightful new wave track that could find fans in followers of Four Tet or the Album Leaf.
The beautiful thing about this compilation is that there are so many more songs and artists to be explored than could be named in just one review. The two most well-known of the artists on the disc are Otto, who now lives in New York, and CéU, who has been causing serious waves over the last two years. If you have had the pleasure of listening to either of these artists, or are just looking for something different to explore, you really can’t go wrong with this release. The liner notes also include brief bios on all the artists, descriptions of the styles being played, and a musical map so you can see where the songs come from. It is clear Mais Um Discos have compiled this with some real passion, a passion which rubs off once you start hearing some of the great artists that up until now have been getting little or no publicity outside of Brazil.