Blog August 7, 2013
Daora: Underground Sounds of Urban Brazil- Hip-hop, Beats, Afro & Dub
According to compilation editor and internationally renowned producer Rodrigo Brandão, ‘Daora’ is São Paolo slang for “something that’s f*cking cool,” a translation that also serves as perhaps the most definitive way to describe this double disc compilation of underground and experimental groove music from Brazil’s metropolises. ‘Daora’ has also been translated as ‘dope.’ That works for us as well. "Daora" is the latest compilation from Mais Um Discos, a London-based label that has made a name for itself by focusing on the internationally unknown underground of Brazilian music, especially promoting artists who fuse local musical elements such as Afro-Brazilian rhythms and lyrical Portuguese vocals with ‘foreign’ styles such as rock, folk, hip-hop and electronics, and live dance music. Mais Um has been responsible for bringing international attention to local styles such as tecno-brega, Mangue-folk and baile-funk, and releasing albums by outstanding (and trendsetting) artists like Gaby Amarantos and Lucas Santtana. You can read our interview with founder Mais Um Gringo here. It is fitting that the latest Mais Um Discos partnership is with Rodrigo Brandão, one of pioneers of Brazil’s hip-hop as member of Mamelo Sound System. In more recent years, he has collaborated with members of the Roots, afrobeat master-drummer Tony Allen, and producer Prince Paul of De La Soul, among other international artists. Brandão’s picks on this compilation are simultaneously attuned to the worlds of hip-hop, experimental electronica and live-band dance music: although the compilation is divided into two discs, with the first disc featuring more electronic and hip-hop oriented material and the second more afrobeat- and dub- influenced bands, Brandão’s selections blur the separations. From the first notes we realize that we are in an ambiguous world between any number of genres: Echos of trip-hop, samba and favela rap coalesce and ultimately blend in the early hip-hop mixtape-style of “Cada Um, Cada Um,” by Espião. There are head-nodding beats built from jazzy samples and aggressive raps from Elo Da Corrente-“Pedaço de Nada,” Sombra’s “Homem Sem Face” and Doncesão’s “Obrigahh”; experimental, instrumental hip-hop/funk sounds on DJ Mako’s “Blu,” and M.B. Williams’ eponymous track; ethereal sounds of candomble drumming on Amabis’ Nova Tropicalia tribute to Mulatu Astatke; twanging berimbau and buzzing likembe riding trapand dub-step elements in Brandão’s own “Atoanagaroa”; and recognizable baião from northern Brazil brought into conjunction with popping electro beats and then abstracted into an ecstatic mess of undulating tones and crumbling beats on “Meteorango Kid,” from PSILOSAMPLES. There’s really just too much good, different music on this one compilation! “Elegância” from Rincon Sapiência and “Corre, Corre Erê” from Karol Conká use current US commercial rap trends such as drop-octave choruses and trap beats with distinctly Brazilian flow and flavor. The afrobeat and dub elements emerge on the first disc via “Vestido de Prata” from Curumin, and “Rei da Cocada” (which translates as ‘King of Cocaine’) from M. Takara 3. The first disc wraps up with a live track “Noon and I'm Still Asleep (Live)” from Bodes & Elefantes, (‘Weddings and Elephants’) which sounds like a mix of electronics, live percussion and vocals that would be right at home in Manhattan’s fabled (but fading) ‘downtown scene.’ The second disc is driven by crunchy, funky drums, whirling organs, twanging guitars, tight jazzy horns and all manner of West-African and Afro-Brazilian influenced rhythms and nostalgic ‘70s production. “Sou de Salvador” from Rodrigo Campos, “Malunguinho,” from Abayomy Afrobeat Orquestra, and “Balboa da Silva,” from Bixiga 70 are good examples of these trends. The first outstanding highlight of the second disc is “Orunmila” by Metá Metá, which begins with a fuzz-filtered saxophone and just gets better, with Afrobeat drums and guitars, dark chord changes, and artful female vocals singing to the Yoruba gods. Halfway through the piece comes the best moment: All instruments cut out except the drummer and the tenor sax player, who interact in an avant-garde, minimal, twisted duo, with the deep swing of samba as the guide. Reggae and dub in Portuguese and English are well-represented here as well, for example, “Not Falling” from Anelis Assumpção, “Sorriso Forte Na Luta” from Soraia Drummond, “Os Tambores do Meu Povo” from Braunation, and “Terapia” from Baiana System. There are also more experimental takes on Brazilian rhythms and MBP, such as “Conversa” from Iara Rennó and “Músico,” a Tom Zé cover from Lucas Santtana built out of orchestral samples and afrobeat drumming and guitar work. Later on, “Cala Boca Menino” from Afroelectro stands out with its laid-back groove, kora, and Mande-style guitar solo. The album finishes up with two instrumental tracks featuring very jazz-oriented horns: “Etiopia” from Sambanzo and “Abeuê” from Os Ritmistas, which is based on Afro-Brazilian candomble drumming. While it is very interesting to hear the live-band afrobeat and jazzy-groove music coming out of Brazil, overall, the electronic hybrids on the first half of this compilation are the highlights in our estimation. However, we HIGHLY recommend a full digestion of this ENTIRE compilation. Although many of these artists are (with a few exceptions) relatively unknown outside of Brazil prior to this release, many are clearly worth digging into in their own right, for example, this led us to search for Metá Metá. We encourage you to dig deeper into the dopest, dankest, darkest, mais daora music coming out of Brazil, and don’t sleep on those Mais Um Discos releases!