On 'Eco Do Futuro' Da Cruz Fights Injustice with Drums That Never Quit
On the group's grittiest album to date, Da Cruz fights local and global injustice with drums that never quit.
Eco Do Futuro
6 Oct 2017
Da Cruz has come a long way from the days of dabbling in the softer side of Brazilian music. The group's 2007 debut Nova Estação laid a safe foundation with a mix of solid rhythms and swaying samba; 2008 album Corpo Elétrico wove more hip-hop into the mix. By 2011's hit Sistema Subversiva, the collective had fully embraced the heavier sounds of electrified dance beats. Now, Eco do Futuro ups the ante even more, channeling discontent over local and global injustices into revolutionary music that stays about as far from bossa nova as a group can get.
In addition to being a timely release by virtue of its viscerally anarchic spirit, Eco do Futuro gives us a concentrated version of every gritty high Da Cruz has hit as a band thus far, punching forward at full power. Frontwoman Mariana Da Cruz lets loose with unstoppable anti-racism chants on anthemic "Negra Sim" and melodic, impassioned critique of income inequality gaps on parable "Minha Luanda".
Opening track "Pais do Futuro" is where Mariana sings out the trenchant central theme of the album: "Tudo vai pra frente sò nòs andamos para tràs" - everything is going forward, and only we walk back. She doesn't stop at pointing out political troubles within Brazil: "Visitar a Amèrica" laments the arbitrary nature of borders and how inhumanely North American countries in particular enforce them.
Stylistically, Eco do Futuro is a triumph for Da Cruz. Acoustic and electronic drums alike hammer out Afrobeat-inspired patterns and reggae grooves with equal aplomb. Mariana croons against the latter on mid-tempo "Babilonia SP" and belts against the former on "Fama de Bacana", always in perfect control of her potent voice. Single "Virose" gives Da Cruz a chance to go a little lighter, pulling in xylophones and letting Mariana trace higher contours with her nimble voice - but never compromising the urban realities crucial to the album.
Where the group's latest album falls in the Da Cruz oeuvre is roughly the same as where the last year and a half have fallen in the context of the last couple of decades. After albums full of sweaty tropical grooves and party tunes meant to make us feel good, Eco do Futuro is done trying to play and ready to fight - or at least give a very stern talking to - the status quo. This is a sharp, pointed album both musically and lyrically, and as much as listening to it makes me miss the days of club-ready tracks like "Boom Boom Boom", there's no question that tunes like pounding "Nossa Maneira" and punk-spirited "Uma Loba" reflect a side of Brazil that needs to be heard right now.
With Eco do Futuro, Da Cruz taps into the collective anguish that plagues so many of us and refuses to let it win. While a large dose of the album gives the impression that the future is a grim one, music like Da Cruz's means that the general struggle ain't over yet. At the end of the album, Mariana sings "Pobre Mentality" for the historically oppressed Afro-Brazilians whose drums helped them to be free, and wonders if they might still have that power for the Brazil of today. If anyone has the rhythm to take a nation to the future, it's definitely Da Cruz.