Brazil Classics At 20: Anti-Aging Solutions Revealed

If Ethnomusicologists Are Correct, Luaka Bop May Have Found Another Way To Add Years Of Enjoyment To Listeners’ Lives

Luaka Bop has been able to expand the shelf life of many record collections without any added chemicals or preservatives over the course of 20 years starting with the label-creating Brazil Classics Series. Featuring cross-sections of music from the Tropicalia, samba, forro and mangue beat scenes and the unrivaled originality of Tom Zé, each compilation has presented the origin of significant artistic developments in South America’s great musical innovator.

Currently available via iTunes and Limited Edition Vinyl

Elle
“You’ll fall in love at first listen.”

Pitchfork
“Not just an ideal primer for the Brazil Classics curious, it’s also the perfect gift for the aspiring DJ in your life.”

Global Groove Connection
“A record no Brazilian music lover should be without.”

Yahoo! Music
“Songs are uniformly exotic, sensual and worthy of serious travelogue inclusion, whether mental or physical.”

Having now delivered 7 packages documenting each scene, the most recent being 2008’s What’s Happening in Pernambuco, the label is proud to offer a limited edition vinyl compilation in April of some of the most defining tracks from each album. The selection will also be available exclusively through iTunes beginning February 26, 2008 with a slightly different track listing.

Side 1.
Jorge Ben Ponta De Lanca Africano (Umbabarauma) – from the album Brazil Classics 1: Beleza Tropical 3:53
Tom Z̩ РMa Рfrom the album Brazil Classics 4: The Best of Tom Ze 3:53
Chico Buarque РCa̤ada Рfrom the album Brazil Classics 1: Beleza Tropical 3:04
Lenine – Hoje Eu Quero Sair Só – from the album Beleza Tropical 2: Novo! Mais! Melhor! 5:38
Marisa Monte РBalan̤a Pema Рfrom the album Beleza Tropical 2: Novo! Mais! Melhor! 3:06

Side 2.
Gilberto Gil – Madalena – from the album Beleza Tropical 2: Novo! Mais! Melhor! 3:58
Luiz Gonzaga – O Fole Roncou – from the album Brazil Classics 3: Forró etc. 2:47
Agep̻ РEla Ṇo Gosta De Mim Рfrom the album Brazil Classics 2: O Samba 4:32
Maria Beth̢nia and Gal Costa РSonho Meu Рfrom the album Beleza Tropical: Brazil Classics 1 2:53
Martinho Da Silva – Claustrofobia – from the album Brazil Classics 2: O Samba 3:22

Luaka Bop: Brazil Classics 1: Beleza Tropical

Political upheavals in Brazil led to a military coup in 1964. In 1968 the repression intensified and did not begin to lift until the late 1970s. Lyrics had always been subject to censorship, and during this period, songwriters had to resort to double and triple entendre to get their points across. A cultural movement called Tropicalismo had coalesced under these circumstances. It saw in itself an extension of ideas dating from the Brazilian avant garde of the ’20s and ’30s when Brazilian culture had been defined as anthropophagic, or cannibalistic, devouring European, African and Native American elements and expelling them in a truly new world culture. Tropicalismo was informed by such diverse elements as the concrete poetry from São Paulo that stressed the visual side of poetry, the pop art of Andy Warhol, and the range of twentieth century classical music from serialism to John Cage.

It also owed debts to the English stylization of American rhythm & blues, and the ironic but affectionate takes on Brazilian standards by João Gilberto. These insights were focused on the clash between the archaic culture of rural Brazil and the mass produced culture of the cities. Tropicalismo provided a new perspective on local and international kitsch and made striking use of the rhythms of Bahia and the other Northeastern states that had been relegated to the status of folklore.

Brazil Classics 2: O Samba: Samba and Pagode

Samba, like many other Afro-Latin music forms, propels and ignites the lower body — the hips, the butt, the pelvis, etc. by letting the downbeat “float.” By de-emphasizing the first beat of each measure, a rhythm becomes more sensual and ethereal; one “floats” outside the time and space of earthly existence. Repetition creates a timeless, communal otherworld, a floating ethereal cycle that is both rooted in biological rhythms and in the beyond or the meta-biological. Sub-atomic particle physics shows us that matter is nothing but interlocking rhythms and energies. In samba, there is a common respect for the sanctity of the groove.

Brazil Classics 3: Forró Etc: Music from the Brazilian Northeast

The lyrics and music in the baiãoes of forró are indelibly marked by the culture of cattle-raising and severe landscape of the bizarrely beautiful drought-ridden sertão (arid backlands) of the Northeast. Forro blends accordion riffs resembling schottishe — a Scottish round akin to a slow polka — a plethora of African-Brazilian percussion styles played on a triangle and a bass drum, and ballad singing alternately infused with swaggering bravado and the untranslatable Portuguese sentiment of saudade (longing for love and for home). This is courtin’ music for forgetting hard work and a hard life, made for grabbing your sweetheart, squeezing ’em tight on the dance floor at a forró — that’s synonymous to party and the music like baião that’s played at it — and two-stepping until dawn.

Brazil Classics 4: The Best of Tom Zé: Massive Hits

Luaka Bop’s resident mad genius Tom Zé. Remixes, DJ culture, 16-bit sampling, ambient soundscaping, multiculti cut ’n’ paste, “Beck-ology” — you’d think the world has finally caught up with Tom Zé’s double-post-modern songcraft. After all, nearly 25 years ago, this architect in Brazil’s Tropicália movement was composing music with tape recorders triggered by doorbells. But Tom demurs. He likes to say that he never listens to music, just the work of his friends and fans who send him songs. “By not knowing,” he explains, “I have no fear of doing something similar.” And thus he remains one step ahead of the curve. With determined Brazilian bounce, arid back country funk, and generous helping of the South American psychedelia he helped create, Tom Zé’s trigonometric sambas engage the heart, the mind and the gluteal regions.

Beleza Tropicial 2: Novo! Mais! Melhor!

This new collection reflects the impact and energy of a new generation of Tropicalists 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.

Brazil Classics 7: What’s Happening in Pernambuco: New Sounds of the Brazilian Northeast

For anyone familiar with Brazilian music, ‘hybrid’ is as crucial an adjective as ‘infectious.’ After all, Brazilians have been the quintessential postmodern musicians unearthing, exploring (even eating!) eccentric sounds both local and global. The tracks on this album are cosmopolitan and cutting edge, and along with their electronic sophistication, they also hint at some primordial flare, a pumping vein straight out of the Brazilian northeast city of Recife in the Northeast state of Pernambuco.

www.luakabop.com

Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University.

I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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