Music

Various Artists: Brazilian Guitar Fuzz Bananas

Even with the trend of vinyl sales increasing, the mystique of records is in danger of being lost.


Brazilian Guitar Fuzz Bananas

Label: World Psychedelic Funk Classics
US Release Date: 2010-02-23
UK Release Date: 2010-01-18

Even with the trend of vinyl sales increasing, the mystique of records is in danger of being lost. It’s a potential casualty of our information age. Stumbling across a record you don’t know anything about, and can’t find any information at all about, is less and less unlikely, ever closer to impossible. These days, my friends that claim to ‘dig’ for records are carrying price guides with them. Christopher Weingarten’s recent 33 1/3 series book on Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back describes how furious early DJs were when others would reveal where samples came from. That seems a quaint notion today, when all is known. The level of information out there is bound to only escalate, and to affect hip-hop, or really music in general, on the way.

Without the unknown side of record-collecting, you wouldn’t have had hip-hop, and you wouldn’t have music collections like Brazilian Guitar Fuzz Bananas. The CD collects 16 songs from Brazil, found 45s gathered by Joel Stones in his record-searching. The music, from the 1960s and '70s, is rarer than rare, so much so that the liner notes include a notation that basically says: we don’t know who owns the rights to these recordings, so we’re putting money in an escrow account in case the owners come forward and make a legitimate claim.

The liner notes, as detailed as today’s music consumers would want them to be, include an image of each record along with whatever information is known about the song and artist. Sometimes that’s the whole story, with musicians who are well-known in Brazil. With others, much less is known. The notes on 14 Bis’s “God Save the Queen” (not the Sex Pistols song) has some guesses about the band, but no definite answers.

The music itself contains mystique. There is mystery in guitar fuzz, in murkiness, like when vocals fall beneath a stoned guitar groove in the mix, and in the co-opting of music from other countries. This is, generally speaking, fuzzed-up rock 'n' roll. Sometimes it’s psychedelic/blues jams that end in feedback or screams; sometimes it’s covers of popular songs that you’ll know. Some are relatively straightforward, within this context. Others are pretty crazy, perhaps meriting the ‘bananas’ reference in the title.

The most bananas might be the first track, Celio Balona’s “Tema de Batman”. In other words, it’s the famous theme from the TV show Batman. Yet you don’t realize it for a while. It starts with a man talking and an announcer speaking through a megaphone, all over some funky drums, which then leads to a rocket taking off. It continues like this, with a flurry of sound effects and drums, for a couple minutes. It’s all build-up to the payoff: the last 55 seconds are that hooky Batman theme, all the more gratifying for the strange, meandering lead-in.

There are lots of small strange moments here, like the funky vocalizations at the start of Fabio’s “Lindo Sonho Delirante”, or the stumbling-through-a-cloud feeling of Loyce E Os Gnomes’s “Que E Isso?” All of these obscure songs made by obscure people also remind us how many people are involved in music history, how many stories of people are out there. Brazilian Guitar Fuzz Bananas contains stories of people known and unknown. Some of these stories have been lost to time, and there’s an appeal in that too, especially in these times when everyone has a social-media presence revealing all.

7

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image