Reviews March 20, 2015
Kafundó Vol. 2: Roots and Bass Music from Brazil
Among the many things you can say about music, describing it as “electronic” and or “Brazilian” will tell you less about what it actually sounds like than just about any other descriptor you can think of. So let's get this out of the way early: Kafundó Vol. 2 is a compilation of electronic music from Brazil. While that's more than a little vague, to be perfectly honest, it's hard to generalize too much about these 13 tracks. One could also say that they're pretty much all incredibly good, but that isn't terribly descriptive either. It's certainly true though. Kafundó Records founders Maga Bo and Soundgoods put together the compilation, which ranges from the hard, pulsing synth hits and drops that dominate Comrade's “Dominei” to the loping beat and sweeping horns on DJ Dolores's “Canção De Zara.” Given both the cosmopolitanism so central to Brazil's musical identity and the border-crossing nature of electronic music, it makes sense these tracks engage with wider trends in varying degrees. They're all Brazilian, but some tracks pull from traditions that haven't been given much exposure beyond their regional strongholds, while others function firmly within international trends that are, at this point, deeply entrenched in Brazilian music. But for being in Portuguese, Sistah Mo Respect's track wouldn't sound out of place on Hot 97. On the other end of the spectrum, Gaspar Z'África Brasil's track, “Rap Na Palma Da Ma,” has the characteristic pitch and catch between singer and chorus that Afro-Brazilian music perfected long ago. Despite coming from the country's inland, central-west, capital city, Saccassaia's dancehall/hip-hop track is the most Caribbean sounding of the lot, reflecting another channel of influence running through this music. What's really singular about Kafundó Vol. 2 is how the intensity of the beats doesn't need to abate to give room for the acoustic and folk instruments which frequently color the tracks. There's enough room for everything in the sonic space of Kafundó Vol. 2, just as there's room enough in Brazilian music for broad stylistic swaths. Even at their most electronic, you can hear the connections that tie these songs to the deep history of Brazilian music, fragments of rhythmic phrasing and melodic sensibility that could come from nowhere else. The subtitle of the compilation, "Roots and Bass," hints at the fusion of worldwide trend with long-held tradition. It works—and that is saying something.