Friday, March 09, 2007

Review: Brazil Classics volume 7

David Byrne has done it again. Ever since the former Talking Head released the first of his Brazil Classics series, Beleza Tropical, in 1989, he has provided fine primers in some of that country's best music. With this seventh volume, the focus is on the exciting sound, hailed by some as the most significant Brazilian musical movement since Tropicália, that has emerged from the north-east.

Pernambuco is a neglected, swampy, poverty-stricken area; its capital, Recife, was named the "fourth worst city in the world to live in" by an American research institute in the 1980s. But local artists responded to their situation by drawing up a manifesto. Calling their music "mangue bit" ("mangue" from the mangroves of the region's swamplands and "bit" in a nod to the computers that help produce the electronic element of their sound), they fused traditional Brazilian rhythms with electronica, hip-hop, punk and folk. It's a hybrid that is as startling as it is subversive.
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