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Onda De Amor Patrick Clarke , August 10th, 2018 08:48

On Soundway, 16 synthesized Brazilian hits that never were, from 1984​-​94

There have been many compilations of Brazilian music before – the country’s rich traditions of psychedelia, samba-rock, disco and Afro-macumba have long been of interest to cratediggers the world over – but there has never been one quite like this. This is not because the records are rare but because they’re unloved. As the record’s compiler, São Paulo-based DJ and label head Millos Kaiser, writes in his liner notes: “DJs, producers, collectors and diggers here in Brazil are more commonly inclined towards organic sounds rather than electronic ones. Foreign vinyl enthusiasts visiting the country usually came with a similar mindset, so not surprisingly, the rarest, most expensive and sought after Brazilian albums all follow these aesthetics.”

What sets Onda De Amor apart, other than its rarely covered subject matter, is the range of extraordinary voices that emerge from its assemblage of ‘Synthesized Brazilian Hits That Never Were’, from 1984 to 1994. There is Vânia Bastos, who rose out of the avant-garde Vanguarda Paulista movement in the early 80s to deliver heartstoppingly sublime plastic soul, and there is Dado Brazzawilly who hollers his way over the supreme funky-soulful-hip-hop belter ‘Saramandaia’, while Nanda Rossi proves herself Brazil’s queen of irresistible disco.

‘Voce Vai Se Lembrar’ by the now-unknown Ricardo Bomba is the opener, sizzling with the kind of heat that leaves you baking by the pool in brilliant exhaustion. It is bamboozlingly smooth, pulling you straight into a sense of slack relaxation. Bastos’ gorgeous ‘Tabu (The Sweetest Tabu)’ follows on similar terms, before ‘Reague’ by Rosana Mendes & Grupo Veneno begins to inflect a little pace, jabs of plastic synth weaving among a flick of Latin rhythm. It’s much-needed; enjoyable as the record’s opening inflections are, it’d be easy to drift off before long if it remained quite so smooth.

It is ‘A Festa é Nossa’, by Grupo Control Digital, that really sets things alight. They push way beyond nostalgic appeal with a rushing cut of glistening grooviness that simmers with momentum and intent. Brazzawilly runs them close for quality – his rap/soul mash-up casts a charismatic shadow over a relentlessly barmy instrumental – as does Via Negromonte’s glistening pop cut ‘Love Is All’, a buried late 80s pop treasure if ever there was one.

The peaks are plentiful, and Onda De Amor is a varied affair. There are breathless instrumentals (‘Electric Boogies’ by Electric Boogies), 80s Brazil’s brilliant answer to the Jackson 5 (kiddie-pop trio Os Abelhudos) and some of the sleaziest porn-film slow jams you’ve ever heard (Região Abissa’s ‘Feminina Mulher’). Yet the songs on Onda de Amor are united by certain common qualities; they are smothered in artifice, in calculated smoothness and wickedly crisp instrumentals.

Every now and then it sounds undeniably dated, but every time it does there’s enough wide-eyed charm and creativity to lend depth beyond novelty value. “Hey lady, brother, sister mister” raps Villa Box on proto hip-hop cut ‘Break De Rua’, but it’s hard to wince quite as much when the instrumental he’s flowing over is such a terrific, weaving blend of spacy synth and rhythmic pumps worthy of Adrian Sherwood with a wicked snap of funk guitar.

Onda De Amor stands out as a compilation, and not just for the quality of its content. More than just a crate-digging exercise, by rescuing these immediate, unpretentious hits that never were, Millos Kaiser proves that Brazilian synth pop holds up with just as much strength as those now-mythic psychedelic deep cuts that are often used to one-dimensionally define the nation’s musical pedigree.