Music

Various Artists: Brazilified

Andy Hermann

Various Artists

Brazilified

Label: Quango
US Release Date: 2001-07-31
Amazon
iTunes

Every once in a while the music industry atones for its sins. Quango, a great world beat/dance label started in the mid-'90s by Los Angeles DJs Jason Bentley and Bruno Guez, dissolved after just a few years, when it was dumped by major label partner Island Records; but thanks to a new deal with indie label Palm Pictures, it's been resurrected. Jason Bentley has since gone on to bigger and better things (he now does A&R for Madonna's Maverick label), but Bruno Guez has clearly been keeping busy during Quango's down time -- in less than six months he's cranked out five new compilations, of which this collection, Brazilified, is arguably the best.

An eclectic collection of tracks held together by the exuberant, syncopated percussion of samba, bossa nova, cuica and other Brazilian music, Brazilified is more evidence that Brazilian "new wave" (a term I just made up, but it'll do as well as any) may be the most exciting thing happening in world music today. A growing number of great artists over the last half-decade have taken the rhythms and energy of Brazilian music and applied them to everything from lounge music (Bebel Gilberto, Nicola Conte) to house (Ian Pooley) to the jazzy experiments in midtempo groove sometimes called "nu jazz" (Jazzanova and the Truby Trio, both represented here).

On Brazilified, Guez has pulled together an impressive cross-section of new Brazilian sounds, featuring established artists, promising newcomers, and a couple of older tracks (some of this material dates back to 1997) that have been undeservedly overlooked, at least in the U.S. While Guez's tastes may lean a bit too heavily towards Latin jazz for some, the breadth and consistency of his selections make Brazilified a real standout in the typically uneven world of compilation CDs.

The album starts with the funky jazz of Butti49's "Brasilikum", a wonderfully rich track that combines a heavy bass groove and skittering percussion with jazzy guitar licks and atmospheric background vocals. The arrangement on "Brasilikum" unabashedly harks back to the '70s jazz fusion of Herbie Hancock and Pat Metheny, a style Guez clearly likes -- several other tracks on Brazilified, most notably the meandering and Methenyesque "A Swell Session", layer a strong fusion vibe on top of more modern dance rhythms. Elsewhere the jazz sounds are decidedly more modern in tone.

The German DJ/producer collective Jazzanova weigh in twice, once with their classic space-jazz jam "Fedime's Flight" and again with a "rework" of a Soul Quality Quartet song called "Toda Tersafeira". The latter track is one of Brazilified's highlights, an airy marvel of edgily remixed vocals and horns scattered over a jazzy soundscape that manages to be at once silky smooth and intricately polyrhythmic. Another German, Rainer Truby, ups the ante later on the disc with a catchier, more percussive track called "Alegre", which retains the jazzy sophistication of Jazzanova's take on Brazilian new wave while staying more traditionally south of the equator, with a samba tempo, syncopated whistle riffs and heaps of percussion. (Why the Germans are so fascinated with Brazilian music -- and so good at adapting it to their own ends -- is a mystery I'll let some more sophisticated music critic try to solve.)

The jazzy stuff on Brazilified is almost all uniformly good, but the compilation's highlights come when Guez lets the jazz take a backseat to more booty-shaking sounds. Arsenal's "A Volta" is a pure delight, a head-bouncing Latin house track with a sunny mix of African and more Brazilian, Astrud Gilberto-style vocals. For fans of Brazilian-tinged house, it's almost worth owning Brazilified just for "A Volta". Other tracks guaranteed to get your feet moving are Mr. Gone's "Mosquito Coast '94-'96", which mixes a tricky but infectious cuica rhythm with jazzy keyboards and vocals, and Da Lata's "Pra Manha", which starts off as a breezy morsel of Brazilian pop before launching into a magnificently funky jam session, with a jazzy bass and frenetic talking drum dueling over a Latin house backbeat.

Guez saves his worst for last, a regrettably shlocky Latin house track from Nova Fronteira called "Abra a Boca" that just sounds too obvious, with its four-on-the-floor backbeat and diva house piano vamp, in the wake of the compilation's other, more original takes on the Brazilian sound. But it does little to detract from an album that is otherwise both a wonderfully sophisticated entrée into the world of Brazilian new wave, and just a flat-out great party record. Kudos to Bruno Guez for putting Quango back on the map and -- hopefully -- exposing more world music fans to this exhilarating style of music.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".

Games

On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 1, Gang of Four to the Birthday Party

If we must #quarantine, at least give us some post-punk. This week we are revisiting the best post-punk albums of all-time and we kick things off with Gang of Four, Public Image Ltd., Throbbing Gristle, and more.

Music

Alison Chesley Toils in Human and Musical Connectivity on Helen Money's 'Atomic'

Chicago-based cellist, Alison Chesley (a.k.a. Helen Money) creates an utterly riveting listen from beginning to end on Atomic.

Music

That Kid's 'Crush' Is a Glittering Crossroads for E-Boy Music

That Kid's Crush stands out for its immediacy as a collection of light-hearted party music, but the project struggles with facelessness.

Books

Percival Everett's ​​​'Telephone​​​' Offers a Timely Lesson

Telephone provides a case study of a family dynamic shaken by illness, what can be controlled, and what must be accepted.

Reviews

Dream Pop's Ellis Wants to be 'Born Again'

Ellis' unhappiness serves as armor to protect her from despair on Born Again. It's better to be dejected than psychotic.

Music

Counterbalance No. 10: 'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols'

The Spirit of ’77 abounds as Sex Pistols round out the Top Ten on the Big List. Counterbalance take a cheap holiday in other people’s misery. Right. Now.

Film

'Thor: Ragnarok' Destroys and Discards the Thor Mythos

Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok takes a refreshingly iconoclastic approach to Thor, throwing out the old, bringing in the new, and packaging the story in a colourful, gorgeously trashy aesthetic that perfectly captures the spirit of the comics.

Music

Alps 2 and Harry No Release Eclectic Single "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" (premiere)

Alps 2 and Harry NoSong's "Madness at Toni's Chip Shop in Wishaw" is a dizzying mix of mangled 2-step rhythms and woozy tranquil electronics.

Music

Kathleen Grace and Larry Goldings Team for Wonderfully Sparse "Where Or When" (premiere)

Kathleen Grace and Larry Goldings' "Where Or When" is a wonderfully understated performance that walks the line between pop and jazz.

Music

Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.

Books

New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.

Music

Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.

Music

Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.

Music

New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.

Books

'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.

Music

Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.

Music

Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.

Music

M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.

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.