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Atenção – Novos sons do Brasil
Various Artists Andy Cumming , May 19th, 2022 08:06

A compilation of new music from Brazil harks back to the miracle days of the early 70s for Andy Cumming

There are few countries whose national identity is so intrinsically tied to the music they make, Brazil being one of the few countries in the world that consumes more of its own music than that of Europe and the USA. So, what is the music that so strongly defines the Brazilian personality? There are frankly so many genres within its musical borders that it’s difficult to define popular national taste with a country that throws out anything from Samba-reggae to mariachi country. 

This collection, compiled by Justin Gage of Aquarium Drunkard for Record Store Day, gathers together a number of artists who could be placed under the MPB umbrella, but then you have the difficulty of defining MPB (Música Popular Brasileira), which includes anything from singer-songwriter acoustic troubadours to experimental concrete poetry, sometimes within the same album. To be clear, this collection is in no way representative of the Brazilian music scene, not even what’s happening within São Paulo, it’s more a part of a scene of singer-songwriters that coincidentally play on each other’s records or use the same studio.

You can find these tracks on their original albums released over the past few years, and there’s a clear glance back to the early seventies, a time when Tropicália had run its course and MPB was reinventing itself, a period paradoxically known as the “miracle years” as well as the “years of lead”, a period of strict censorship under the military regime, but of incredible musical invention that would infect even the mainstream.

Take for example multi-instrumentalist Chico Bernandes’ ‘O Espelho’ (The mirror), which features a satisfyingly plucked bassline as if taken freshly from a 70s Milton Miranda production. His brother, Tim Bernardes, vocalist from O Terno, offers the beautifully arranged ‘Recomeçar’, stirring strings underpin its assuredness of production and songwriting.

I used to think Ana Frango Eletrico came over as a bit of low budget Gal Costa, but there’s no denying that the rousing chorus, here reminiscent of early 2000s indie-rockers Los Hermanos, overcomes the cuteness factor. Sessa’s ‘Dez Total (Filhos de Gandhi)’ is a homage to the afro-drum ensemble from Salvador, Bahia, renowned for Gilberto Gil’s participation, and is taken from his 2019 debut Grandeza, a recommended tight, taut thirty minutes of downtempo samba.

Irmão Victor plays some down-tuned weirdness a lá Walter Franco, but still manages to be extremely melodic; as if any of these artists could pass up a good tune, see Catavento’s nod to the Clube de Esquina. Album closers Metá Metá take it easy, with their meditative ‘Obatalá’ where Thiago França channels his inner Pharoah Sanders with some breathy skronk. Taken together, this is a calm collection of striking songs that nicely contradicts the current rising hysteria of the forthcoming election.