The following notes were written by David Byrne.
Brazilians are the original masters of mixology, blend and hybridization. We’re just catching up to what they’ve been doing for years, decades even.
Since the ’60s, Brazilian musicians have been mixing styles, sounds, rhythms and textures from within their country and without, mixing sambas with funk, death metal with African drumming, and even sitars with bossa nova. It gets wilder, crazier and more inventive as time goes on, not to mention harder — like everywhere the beats get harder as the world becomes more urban. The sadness of their economy, the corruption in their politics and the vast differences between rich and poor seem to act almost as an incentive to produce something musically so transcendent, so full of life, that it counters the negativity of all the shit that’s going down, to paraphrase the Isleys. Their music fights the power. This is music that grooves as if their lives depended on it, as if it’s a matter of life and death, which, in a way, it is. One can choose between mere survival or making life, in the form of music, to counter death.
Sadly not only in the musical arena, but also in economic and social aspects, the Brazilians outpace us; they are the future. The world becomes more Brazilian every day — the Brazilianization of the great first world powers like the U.S. and U.K. Some call it globalization, some neo-liberalismo: the growing gap between rich and poor, thrown into high gear by Reagan and Thatcher, and proceeding unchecked, the destruction and waste of natural resources, every politician up for sale to multiple nations — these are all symptoms — soon we’ll catch up to Brazil. One can only hope we catch up musically as well, and that their funky spirituality and inventiveness will also be emulated by each country in its own way.
What’s happening down there? It’s been ten years since we at Luaka Bop released our first compilation of Brazilian music, Beleza Tropical. It sold extremely well — 350,000 copies — and is still going strong, but a lot has happened since then.
That first record reflected the coming of age, the maturity, of the tropicalismo generation — the late ’60s revolutionary movement in the arts that advocated cultural cannibalism: absorbing, “eating” and appropriating anything and everything from anywhere. This new collection reflects the impact and energy of a new generation who, rather than seeking to overturn or discredit the work of its predecessors, wants to build on it, add to it, and continue absorbing greater and more contemporary influences. Rap, sampling, psychedelic, new and no-wave, funk and punk, for example, are swallowed and mixed with the myriad of Brazilian styles; mixed with the swing of samba, the pounding massed drums of Bloco Afro, the dance grooves of Axe (ah-shay), and the uplifting spirit of Ijexa (ee-jay-shah).
Brazil is where everything is possible, creatively at least. Any sound or style can be, and has been, put to use creating not rehashed or retro stylings, but a million new styles. Harder, crazier, funkier, more explosive. There is such a depth of lyrical and musical intuition that one can only assume that what the gods that look after Brazil may have taken away with one hand, they have given back doubly with the other.
ReviewsThe album is infectious. The music is rootsy, yet contemporary, and 100 percent danceable. Highlights include Marisa Monte's mix of samba, funk and her delicious vocals on the catchy "Balaca Pema," Daniela Mercury's reggae-driven Bahian percussion pop, the late Chico Science (killed in a 1997 auto accident) and Nacao Zumbi's funky, rap-driven Mangrove Beat on "Rios, Pontes & Overdrives," and even a Brazilian Sgt. Pepper-inspired duet, "O seu Olhar" by Arnaldo Artunes and Monte. Another gem, Moleque de Rua's "Pregoes de Rua," shows that the massive drumming-pop sound isn't reserved to the music of Bahia. The group that began as a local youth project to help impoverished street children in the Sao Paulo slums beautifully mixes reggae, rock and rap into its powerful social mission. The music on Beleza Tropical 2 is as diverse as the nation it represents, but it is so well-sequenced that even the most trigger-happy remote control users can simply hit play, clear away the furniture and dance their hearts out. - Detroit Metro Times