Archive for the ‘ Tropicália ’ Category

Flaviola e o Bando do Sol

Flaviola e o Bando do Sol

Interest in Brazil’s 1960s/1970s music scene is pretty much dominated by Tropicalia these days, but behind this popular front lay a bevy of fantastic psychedelic rock albums that don’t otherwise fit in with the kaleidoscopic coastal sounds of folks like Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa or Os Mutantes. One of these is the self-titled release by Flaviola e o Bando do Sol, an ethereal slice of psychedelic folk music put together by many of the same cats who made Lula Côrtes and Zé Ramalho’s Paêbirú such an enduring classic.

There is a lazy, mellow vibe to the proceedings here that really puts you in a midnight, beach campfire vibe, with jangling acoustic guitars and wispy flashes of percussion bedding Flaviola’s warm, reassuring vocals. Flute, dulcimer, and what sounds like a harp also make appearances here, as well as several other instruments that sound distinctly Brazilian, though I’ll be damned if I can name them. The rare, rapid-fire semi-electric number “Asas” and the catchy “Balalaica” are definitely the numbers to play to Tropicalia fans, featuring the record’s most energetic rhythms, with Flaviola and friends cheerily chanting out the title on the latter (whether or not the song actually makes use of a Russian balalaika I have no idea). Slower pieces like “Noite” and the autoharp punctuated “Canção de Outono” are more personal numbers, with sleepy sways to them and delicate finger picking.

The record is pretty short, at just under half an hour long, so I’ll keep the review short in turn. After all, this isn’t exactly an album that you can say very much about, as it’s more about the magic of hearing all these simple acoustic sounds come together – there is nothing shocking or avant-garde here, simply beautiful music that is bound to stick with you long after the needle’s been lifted. British-based reissue label Mister Bongo has done us all a favor by repressing this one on 180 gram vinyl, though if that’s not your thing (and it should be) then they also have copies on compact disc. Don’t miss this one.

mp3: Canto Fúnebre
mp3: Do Amigo

:) Reissue | 2012 | Mr. Bongo | search ebay ]
:D Reissue | 2012 | Mr. Bongo | buy here ]
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VA “Tropicália: Ou Panis Et Circenses”


Tropicália, or Tropicalismo, was at once a response to military dictatorship and an attempt to expand Brazilian music by infusing ideas from all parts of the globe, even so far as an attempt to create a ‘universal music.’ This monumental compilation is the work of a like minded collective – radicals that would subvert and forever change the art and politics of Brazil, specifically Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, Tom Ze, Nara Leao, and Os Mutantes. Leaders of the movement, Gil and Caetano, would be imprisoned and exiled for 4 years because of this record.

You can hear their urgency in the music itself. I can’t understand Portuguese, but this sound communicates through the language barrier. It’s a sound to make your eyes drop back in your head and swirl: a stirring blend of American psychedelia, traditional Brazilian music, African popular music, and English pop rock. Taken in by the rhythms and growingly addictive melodies, you will find yourself singing along in pidgin Portuguese before long.

The title of this record translates to “bread and circuses,” a phrase denoting cheap political handouts used to gather support. Makes me imagine the music was probably just an amusing distraction aiming listeners towards some higher cause. Regardless of your interest in the social importance of this record, I suggest you take the handout – it’s unlikely you won’t be carried away with Tropicália’s drama, intensity, stylistic range, and irresistible rhythms.

If you have any interest in the Tropicália movement, which was more recently popularized in the states by artists like Beck and David Byrne,  Panis Et Circenses is the place to start. I highly recommend you grab the 4 Men With Beards 180-gram vinyl reissue and spin it loud. Even if you balk at compilations, this is more, it’s the original and essential Tropicália comp. One that changed the world.

Gilberto Gil – “Geleia Geral”

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:) Vinyl Reissue | 2008 | 4 Men | Order | Search ]
:D CD Reissue | 2002 | Universal | Buy ]

Gal Costa “1969”

Gal 69

This is an insane album that is more experimental than the Beatles’ psychedelic work while each song still retains a catchy pop flavor. This self-titled album was Gal Costa’s second effort and is commonly referred to as Cinema Olympia or 1969.

“Cinema Olympia” is also the first song on this album and it’s a catchy rocker that opens the program up with heavily distorted guitars reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix. In fact, many of the songs off 69 have blazing fuzz guitars that bludgeon and assault the listener’s ears. Only “Pas Tropical” has that typical folk bossa nova sound that is so often associated with the Tropicalia movement. And even this track is really good and is somewhat of a Tropicalia standard, notable for its pretty vocals and mellow atmosphere. The second song on side A, “Taureg,” is an outstanding track with eastern tones, exotic instruments and heavy vocal echo.

Each song on this album is completely unpredictable, always trying a new vocal style or production trick. Costa expands on the studio freedoms granted to fellow Brazilian music pioneers Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, and Milton Nascrimento. None of the above artists ever made anything this far out though, just listen to the cat screams that end “Meu Nome E Gal” or the funky, sexually charged psychedelia of “Empty Boat” (the one song on the album with English lyrics).

The Velvet Underground’s first album gave us an experimental work that was stoic and full of wisdom but Gal Costa’s 69 is junky, trashy, and sleazy but still somehow full of depth and meaning. Costa’s vocals are wonderfully out of synch with conventional pop and this disc is more whacked out than the U.S. and U.K.’s best groups. The five albums that succeed this lp are also very good and worth investigation. Gal Costa/1969 frequently goes in and out of print but readers are urged to search for a copy on ebay.

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“The Empty Boat”

:D CD Reissue | 2008 | Dusty Groove | order @ Dusty Groove ]
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Os Mutantes “Mutantes”


Any Mutantes record is a mind-blower and this one makes an unforgettable introduction. The music and voice of Os Mutantes transcends any language barrier such that even the most literary of music fans can still fall deep for these dazzling sounds. David Byrne, who reissued an anthology of the Mutants on his Luaka Bop label, seems to back this sentiment up in the fantastic liner notes to Stop Making Sense: “Singing is a trick to get people to listen to music for longer than they would ordinarily.” One phrase echoes in my head when I listen to Os Mutantes: ‘better than the Beatles.’

Though greatly inspired by them, Os Mutantes expanded the music further than The Beatles were capable, and still maintained the disparate elements of pop song and art form. Laced with the sexiest assortment of fuzz tones and electronic effects, the production is startling and the compositions are eclectic, addictive, and lovely.

Os Mutantes’ history is as complex and interesting as their music; they are one of the best known bands of the Tropicália movement and aimed straight at the frightening political climate of Brazil 1968. With no small thanks to Byrne’s efforts, serious interest in their music led the band to reform and they are performing and releasing new records today.

No serious rock collection overlooks the Mutants. At the same time, the joy in their music should appeal universally and to all tastes.

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“Nao Va Se Perder Por Ai”

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Som Imaginario (self-titled)

Som Imaginario

This was Som Imaginario’s (Imaginary Sound) debut album from 1970. A Brazilian band that often backed the great Milton Nascimento just as Os Mutantes had backed Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso on their early albums. In fact, this album could be seen as the perfect companion piece to Os Mutantes’ 1969 masterpiece, A Divina Comedia Ou Ando Meio Desligado.

The band’s name is very fitting, Som Imaginario is an invigorating blend of folk, soul, psychedelia, brit influenced pop, rock and Brazilian homeland music. For a debut album, the band sounds extremely confident and wild, steaming and cooking thru the album (and there are no duff tracks either!!).

Morse opens the album on a funky note, with blasts of fuzz guitar and swirling organ. The next song, Super-God has some great use of wah-wah and distorted vocals. Milton Nascimento guests on the mysterious Pantera, which is another highlight with a bomb explosion intro. Nascimento’s voice is highly original and experimental and adds depth to an already good composition. The two songs in English, Poison and Make Believe Waltz, are also very good, soulful folky ballads.

An essential psychedelic album and a must for fans of Tropicalia. Som Imaginario released a few albums during the progressive rock era which are also highly recommended but reissues are criminally unavailable.

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