Music

Various Artists: Love, Peace & Poetry Vol. 6: Brazilian Psychedelic Music

Matt Cibula

Various Artists

Love, Peace & Poetry Vol. 6: Brazilian Psychedelic Music

Label: Normal
US Release Date: 2003-01-28
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

If these 19 tracks' worth of funky bizarre psychedelic rock from Brazil all sounded like the opener, O Bando's "É Assim Falava Mefistófeles", I would probably say that this was the greatest single compact disc of music ever manufactured. This 1969 song, the title of which translates as "Thus Spake Mephistopheles", manages to incorporate every single kind of 20th-century music that had ever been heard until then (the liner notes say James Brown, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Arthur Brown, and Tropicalia, but they're forgetting at least twelve other genres, including free jazz, big band, garage rock, Memphis soul, and early experimental electronica) and make it work within one four-minute pop blast.

This is probably the best song ever recorded. To compare anything else to it is incredibly unfair. But that is what we do, we who write about music -- we make unfair comparisons. So I guess the sad news is that the rest of this compilation doesn't measure up. But the good news is that it tries damned hard.

This isn't really a survey of all Brazilian psychedelic music, because it doesn't collect any of the heavy hitters of Tropicalia: no Caetano Veloso (damn, didn't he look good at the Academy Awards singing with Lila Downs?), no Gal Costa, no Os Mutantes, and no Gilberto Gil. But that's okay, because you can always find early stuff by those acts; where else can you find insane hyperspazzy grungy acid-drenched protopunk work by Módulo 1000 or Os Brazôes or the Buttons? Nowhere else, baby.

So let's talk about them. Módulo 1000's contribution here, "Animalia", sounds like a warm up jam by three different guitarists and one backwards-ass guitar-playing ghost for its entire running time, which is all of two minutes. The great Os Brazôes, whose contribution here is "Tâo Longe de Mim", must have been equally addicted to early Hendrix and the Hair soundtrack, because that's what their delicate/hard song sounds like. (That title, by the way, translates to "So Far of Me." Has anything ever been better than that? Uh, no.) And sure, there must have been 50 groups called the Buttons -- but how many of them featured whistling and flutes as lead instruments in a song? Their tune, "Birds in My Tree", is actually sung in English, and compares favorably to early Moody Blues, who were actually cool as hell, as are the Buttons.

Some of these songs virtually pole-vault out of your speakers and attack your head like little tiny ninjas of melody. Another English-language track, Sound Factory's "Let's Go", features some truly horrible high-tenor vocals and some truly stunning guitar work and some incredibly funky drum breaks and absolutely no sense of song structure at all -- it's the angry jealous and still-hot ex-wife who will not be ignored of this collection, and it fades out at the perfect time. Another wow moment comes with "Marácas de Fogo" by Lula Côrtes and Zé Ramalho; it's acid-flamenco, with samba-flavored percussion and an Isley-worthy guitar freak-in. No words, really, just some chanted syllables, but the guitar work is world-class, and so is the chorus of broken glass that ends the song.

I wish everything was as exciting as the previous examples, but sadly that's not the case. Some stuff is just pretty much pro forma fun psychedelia/Tropicalia. A Bolha's song "Razão de Existir", fortified with words in English, could have been any song on AM radio in 1969 -- there's nothing inherently strange or cool or Brazilian about it, it's just good and kinda rock-y. The same could be said about "Mensageiro", by Paulo Bagunça, except you'd have to substitute "hippie-funk-y" for "rock-y." And then there's some stuff that's just dull, like the first 20 seconds of Hugo Filho's "Quero Você, Você", before it goes shuffle, and then reverb-slowjam, and then AOR, and then back, and then forward, and then into your heart. Actually, even the worst stuff here is amazing and brilliant and studly, and you need it.

Oh, to have more time to write about Bango's "Inverno no Mundo" (? and the Mysterians meet Zeppelin) or Spectrum's "Trilha Antiga" (big fat guitar swaggers into town, demands liquor, decides to stay a while) or "Revolução Orgânica" by Marcos Valle/Vento Sul, which might actually be better than "É Assim Falava Mefistófeles", which would mean that it was actually the new greatest song in the world.

And any CD with the two greatest songs in the world deserves a home in your home.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Television

'Everything's Gonna Be Okay' Is  Better Than Okay

The first season of Freeform's Everything's Gonna Be Okay is a funny, big-hearted love letter to family.

Music

Jordan Rakei Breathes New Life Into Soul Music

Jordan Rakei is a restless artistic spirit who brings R&B, jazz, hip-hop, and pop craft into his sumptuous, warm music. Rakei discusses his latest album and new music he's working on that will sound completely different from everything he's done so far.

Reviews

Country Music's John Anderson Counts the 'Years'

John Anderson, who continues to possess one of country music's all-time great voices, contemplates life, love, mortality, and resilience on Years.

Music

Rory Block's 'Prove It on Me' Pays Tribute to Women's Blues

The songs on Rory Block's Prove It on Me express the strength of female artists despite their circumstances as second class citizens in both the musical world and larger American society.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 3, Echo & the Bunnymen to Lizzy Mercier Descloux

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part three with Echo & the Bunnymen, Cabaret Voltaire, Pere Ubu and more.

Books

Wendy Carlos: Musical Pioneer, Reluctant Icon

Amanda Sewell's vastly informative new biography on musical trailblazer Wendy Carlos is both reverent and honest.

Music

British Folk Duo Orpine Share Blissful New Song "Two Rivers" (premiere)

Orpine's "Two Rivers" is a gently undulating, understated folk song that provides a welcome reminder of the enduring majesty of nature.

Music

Blesson Roy Gets "In Tune With the Moon" (premiere)

Terry Borden was a member of slowcore pioneers Idaho and a member of Pete Yorn's band. Now he readies the debut of Blesson Roy and shares "In Tune With the Moon".

Books

In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.

Music

Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.

Film

Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.

Music

Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.

Music

Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.

Music

'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.

Music

Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.

Television

From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.

Music

Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.

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.

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.