Over the past few decades, there has been a seismic shift in Brazil’s musical landscape. A plethora of varying musical undergrounds has developed across the nation. While Rio and São Paulo have been overwhelmed with networks of talented musicians for a long time, creative life is now bursting all over the country. Amplificador exists to document and propagate the wonderfully diverse music currently blossoming from Brazil’s vivacious and geographically varied musical undergrounds. Presenting an up-to date insight into Brazilian music, this compilation draws together some of the components of ‘Novíssima Música Brasileira’ (brand new Brazilian music), ranging from afro-grooves to rock, to modern samba and MPB. The music reaches back across Brazil’s incredibly rich musical and cultural traditions, while also taking in influence from other movements around the globe.
Having begun life in 2012 as a Brazilian music blog run by Marcelo Monteiro, Eduardo Rodrigues, Mateus Campos, and Ricardo Calazans, the aim of Amplificador is to document and propel to wider audiences, Brazilian music of the ’00s and ’10s generation. This is a task made more significant by obvious changes in the way music is consumed. “People are no longer obliged to listen to what the radio and TV are presenting. There is a whole new generation that wants to listen to new bands and new sounds and we try to connect those bands with other bands, producers, fans and even the mainstream.” These changes in technology and the way music is discovered and shared have developed parallel to the proliferation of these emerging scenes. The ostensible decentralization of the music industry means the promoting and filtering work of journalists and blogs, like Amplificador, have become increasingly important, as people try to keep up with the tsunami of new music and media flooding the country on a daily basis.
Marcelo uses the example of the Mangue Beat movement to explain a trend in contemporary Brazilian music that looks both inwards, to Brazil’s own musical traditions and outwards, to movements around the world to create a novel, localised identity: “The 90’s Pernambuco art-social movement was inspired by Coco, Maracatu and Forró all mixed with modern riffs and grooves. The mythical revolutionary Chico Science, his Nação Zumbi, Mundo Livre, Siba, and many others do this blend perfectly. There are also the references to the older generations and masters – Gil, Caetano, Luiz Gonzaga, João Gilberto, Tim Maia, Jorge Benjor – as a constant inspiration for all bands.” This is very much the case for the Brazilian artists of today.
Music is unquestionably informed by place. Brazil has always been famed for its regional differences in this sense. Indeed there are still pronounced variations between the scenes of Rio, Sao Paulo, Natal, Goiânia, Belo Horizonte and Belém for example, there are also great divergences within cities and while technology has brought changes to the way musical influences are shared, there are cultural differences, rooted in folkloric traditions, that aren’t going away. Expressing his appreciation for this fact, while highlighting the potential of Brazil’s spread of musical flavours, Marcelo explains that “what we have now is new ingredients to make an even better mixture.”
This compilation heavily features music from a scene in Brazil’s current musical make-up, which draws inspiration from African music, particularly Afro-beat music. Abayomy Afrobeat Orchestra from Rio formed because of their shared love of the music of Fela Kuti, uniting initially in 2009 for a jam session in his honour. But what sets Abayomy apart from other groups of a similar nature, is the fact that their sound also brings with it the songs and rhythms of candomblé. In this sense, Abayomy was the first band of its kind. The thirteen members of the orchestra have a palpable current of Rio’s musical heritage – its rhythms and culture – running through them. So while their sound is distinctly African, it is also inherently Brazilian. Similarly, Zebrabeat Afro-Amazônia Orquestra draw upon traditional guitarradas and carimbos from the state of Pará and fuse these with the poly-rhythms of Afrobeat to create another regional hybrid, which stays true to both its Amazonian and African roots, yet which results in a very fresh, Brazilian sound. From Belo Horizonte (capital of Minas Gerais), Iconilli are another key band on Brazil’s Afro-groove scene. With influences as varied as funk, jazz and psychedelic rock, congado, mining harmonies, maracatu, coco, ijexá, carimbó, Iconilli somehow manage to balance all of these sounds in such a way that makes it impossible to pin them down. From the Northeastern city of Joao Pessao, Parayba, Burro Morto’s pshychadelic afro sound leans more towards rock and funk influences, with hint of regional Brazilian rhythms such as frevo and forro. They add another flavour to the Brazilian afro-groove scene: just one of the many exciting facets of Novíssima Música Brasileira.
While African-inspired music features heavily on the compilation, it is just one of the many styles within. Ive Seixas has a fresh approach to MPB, based on traditional rhythms and instrumentation, punctuated by a pop sensibility, coupled with a powerful female vocal. As an artist she is a product of a ‘Do It Yourself’ outlook to creativity, taken from her love of rock growing up. In 2013 she embarked on a project of street performance: wandering, like a lonely troubadour with just her guitar. Ive and her project began to gain notoriety and shortly after, her first EP was recorded, featuring some important names of South Rio’s underground scene. ‘Cervejas Populares’ taken from the EP, is a beautiful, sombre piece of modern Brazilian pop, with a traditional samba rhythm. Another artist of the new MPB scene is Fabricio, from the city of Vitoria, who’s ‘Feito Tamborim’ melds rock and funk and is also clearly reminiscent of the old Brazilian masters. It’s an appreciation for the national musical heritage, alongside a keen ear for melody and an acceptance of foreign influences that results in these promising new sounds of Brazilian MPB.
Sao Paulo’s super group of the underground ‘Passo Torto’ have been at the helm of an emerging scene in the city: an innovative approach to samba which draws in and experiments with afro grooves, jazz melodies and rock structures. Their sound is naturally very Brazilian, but the nylon twang of Faira Lima Pra Ca, interspersed with ominous strings and light rolling percussion, seems reminiscent of Captain Beefheart or Tom Waits, as the band lament their frustrations with their native city through their music.
The Future of Novíssima Música Brasileira looks very bright. The main challenge (and purpose of this album) is to get the music beyond Brazil’s underground and into view of international audiences. In the last 10 years this goal has become somewhat more attainable, as the Brazilian government has begun to see the internationalisation of the nation’s culture as a strategic objective, with public projects gaining increased investment and backing. The continuing project of Amplificador is to reinforce this international bridge by writing, filtering and promoting the scene as a whole. There is a wealth of great music currently blooming in Brazil and using new media tools, Marcelo and the team, alongside many others, will passionately continue to get the voices of Brazil’s underground heard.
01. Ive Seixas – Cervejas Populares (Ive Seixas)
02. Passo Torto – Faria Lima Pra Cá (Kiko Dinucci / Rodrigo Campos)
03. Abayomy – Obatala (PD)
04. Iconili – O Rei de Tupanga (Iconili)
05. Luziluzia – Summertime (Luziluzia)
06. The Baggios – Esturra Leão (Julio Andrade)
07. Fino Coletivo – Iracema (Alvinho Lancellotti)
08. Zulumbi – Zulumbi (Rodrigo Brandão / Lúcio Maia / PG / Dengue)
09. André Sampaio e os Afromandinga – Ecos de Niafunke (André Sampaio)
10. Amplexos – Leão (Amplexos)
11. Burro Morto – Lúcifer Colômbia (Daniel Jesi/Burro Morto)
12. Zebrabeat_Zebrabeat Afro – Amazônia Orquestra (Zebrabeat)
13. DJ Dolores – O Amor vai…
14. Os Sertões – Flor da Saudade (Os Sertões)
15. Aeromoças e Tenistas Russas – Kilimanjaro Dub (Juliano Parreira, Gustavo Palma, Eduardo Porto, Gustavo Koshikumo)
16. Fabrício – Feito Tamborim, Pará Céu (Fabrício.)
17. Motormama – Rio Grande (Motormama)
The compilation Various “Amplificador – Novissima Musica Brasileira” (Far Out Recordings) is going to be released July 17, 2015.