Music

Andy Votel: Brazilika

The high priest of second-hand grooves redefines the art of the Brazilian compilation.


Andy Votel

Brazilika

Subtitle: Subtropical Sunstroke Psych-Out
Label: Far Fout
US Release Date: Available as import
UK Release Date: 2008-04-28
Amazon
iTunes

This is probably the furthest out Far Out have yet gone in their mission to bring a little bit of Brazil to a sodden British summer, proffering "psychedelic soul from the screaming, sunburnt plains of your tangled mind...” (which, in a Brazilian accent, just about sounds cliché-free). More readily identified with new recordings from old-timers (Marcos Valle, Joyce, Os Ipanemas etc.), for one album only they’ve given carte blanche to obscurica excavator/Finders Keepers proprietor Andy Votel.

Unsurprisingly, then, there’s no cherry-blossom bossa here, although there is Marcos Valle under the banner of Trio Soneca, um pouco diferente, but then that’s because he’s doing the theme tune to Vila Sésamo -- a loping slice of freak-funk going under the title "Funga-Funga", with a fuzzy-folk companion in "Os Bichos" (surprising that Trunk didn’t get to this stuff first). Raising his decks above what he dubs "the eBay trophy collectors stampede," Votel embraces the unloved detritus of Brazilian soaps, straight-to-TV movies, and song contests.

Not that he’s the first to go beyond the obvious -- if you wore out your copy of last year’s Soul Jazz mastercomp, Brazil `70, this is your next port of call, digging up more revelations from the mighty Novos Baianos (check out the Valley of the Dolls-like, beat group revisionism of "Ferro na Boneca"), and from the lesser heard vaults of Som Livre and RGE in general. While you might just have heard Novos Baianos's "Tinindo-Trincado” (the funkiest Brazilian rock song ever recorded?), unless you’re as undaunted a crate digger as Votel, chances are you won’t have heard much else. No Gilberto Gil or Caetano Veloso? Gasp.. not even Trio Mocotó? Nope, and nope. Azimuth -- before they were Azymuth -- make an appearance with the monster-bass prog-funk of "Periscópio", and late-model Mutantes -- after the Os -- make the cut with the catchily titled “Deixa Entrar Um Pouco D’ Agua no Quintal” (think Emerson, Lake & Palmer playing beach volleyball), but it’s the hopelessly obscure that take the prizes: the Avenida Atlântica-cruising brilliance of Perry Ribeiro’s "Ciladas", a veritable sugar loaf of tiered harmonies laaa-la-la-la-la-la-ing through the years like so much styrofoam saudade; the radical reworking of MPB standard "Se Você Pensa"; the brilliant, almost dub-reggae, superflange-singalong of Os Brazões’ "Feitiço"; or the Jorge Ben-ish, vowel-gargling, brink-of-scat brilliance of, well...a track near the end.

But it’s exactly that ability to extemporize on a beat, or just a syllable, that makes Brazilian rock and psychedelia so different from its Anglo-American equivalent, and perhaps -- fashionista herd-mentality aside -- why the media went almost as daft over the recent Os Mutantes gigs as they did over the Led Zeppelin reformation. While Anglo-Saxon traditionally tends to the heavy of vibe, Brazilian feels good despite itself, a rebel without a scowl, just because it can’t hold one down for long enough.

While Gerson Conrad and Zezé Motta’s "1974" pretty much opens proceedings with all guitars blazing a la mid-period Aerosmith, the kind of bands Votel mixes up here couldn’t have been dinosaurs even if they’d wanted to, and as the man who managed to wring the funk from the hoary old vaults of Vertigo, this stuff slips through his mixer like a machete through coconut. Spiced up with Portuguese and gloriously accented English dialogue/b-movie snippets, it makes for an hour’s worth of sonic reconstruction that leaves you feeling a million dollars, from your flip-flops to your fringe. It really is that good, and it might’ve been even better if Votel wasn’t quite so enthusiastic: about the only criticism you can level at this record is the amount of song-snippets crammed into it, but when the supposed b-music is as good as its compiled-to-death equivalent, as endlessly playable and criminally under-exposed as this, you can’t hold it against him. The Brazilian compilation lives.

8


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

Great Peacock Stares Down Mortality With "High Wind" (premiere + interview)

Southern rock's Great Peacock offer up a tune that vocalist Andrew Nelson says encompasses their upcoming LP's themes. "You are going to die one day. You can't stop the negative things life throws at you from happening. But, you can make the most of it."

Music

The 80 Best Albums of 2015

Travel back five years ago when the release calendar was rife with stellar albums. 2015 offered such an embarrassment of musical riches, that we selected 80 albums as best of the year.

Film

Buridan's Ass and the Problem of Free Will in John Sturges' 'The Great Escape'

Escape in John Sturge's The Great Escape is a tactical mission, a way to remain in the war despite having been taken out of it. Free Will is complicated.

Books

The Redemption of Elton John's 'Blue Moves'

Once reviled as bloated and pretentious, Elton John's 1976 album Blue Moves, is one of his masterpieces, argues author Matthew Restall in the latest installment of the 33 1/3 series.

Music

Whitney Take a Master Class on 'Candid'

Although covers albums are usually signs of trouble, Whitney's Candid is a surprisingly inspired release, with a song selection that's eclectic and often obscure.

Music

King Buzzo Continues His Reign with 'Gift of Sacrifice'

King Buzzo's collaboration with Mr. Bungle/Fantômas bassist Trevor Dunn expands the sound of Buzz Osborne's solo oeuvre on Gift of Sacrifice.

Music

Jim O'Rourke's Experimental 'Shutting Down Here' Is Big on Technique

Jim O'Rourke's Shutting Down Here is a fine piece of experimental music with a sure hand leading the way. But it's not pushing this music forward with the same propensity as Luc Ferrari or Derek Bailey.

Music

Laraaji Returns to His First Instrument for 'Sun Piano'

The ability to help the listener achieve a certain elevation is something Laraaji can do, at least to some degree, no matter the instrument.

Music

Kristin Hersh Discusses Her Gutsy New Throwing Muses Album

Kristin Hersh thinks influences are a crutch, and chops are a barrier between artists and their truest expressions. We talk about life, music, the pandemic, dissociation, and the energy that courses not from her but through her when she's at her best.

Music

The 10 Best Fleetwood Mac Solo Albums

Fleetwood Mac are the rare group that feature both a fine discography and a successful series of solo LPs from their many members. Here are ten examples of the latter.

Music

Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.

Film

The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.

Music

'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.

Music

Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.

Books

Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pays Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.

Music

South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.

Music

Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.

Music

'History Gets Ahead of the Story' for Jazz's Cosgrove, Medeski, and Lederer

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove leads brilliant organ player John Medeski and multi-reed master Jeff Lederer through a revelatory recording of songs by William Parker and some just-as-good originals.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.