Lucas Santtana’s Sem Nostalgia

Sem Nostalgia by Lucas Santtana is the first artist album from Mais Um Discos, the label that brought us Oi! A Nova Musica Brasileira! last year. If you listened to that album you will surely remember Lucas Santtana’s “Hold Me In”, one of the definite highlights and one of the tracks from Sem Nostalgia, which is finally getting it’s UK release.

Sem Nostalgia is a concept, taking it’s starting point as the “voice and guitar” format of Brazilian guitar music, i.e. Joao Gilberto’s bossa nova style, and then taking the idea in as many directions as possible. Over 12 songs Santtana, and an assortment of collaborators, only use voice and violin yet manage to create some startling compositions and soundscapes. Here we take a look at the album track-by-track.

1. Super Violão Mashup

The album opener; guitars originally played by Dorival Caymmi, Joao Gilberto and company cut up until almost unrecognisable. Engineers Gustavo Lenza and Lucas Martins were instrumental in making this track happen. This was the first single from the album in the UK. Check out the video below:

2. Who Can Say Which Way

Do Amor join Lucas for a song that has all the feel of a band yet only features vocals, acoustic guitar and a bassline (which presumably is played on guitar too). There is a recurring theme in this song too as the striking of a guitar with the palm of a hand is sampled and used for percussion.

3. Nightime In the Backyard

The first of three collaborations with Arto Lindsay, an artist renowned in the US for his avant-garde stylings but who has proudly discovered his Brazilian heritage through working with artists such as Caetano Veloso, Vinicius Cantuaria and Lucas Santtana, with whom he has worked for the last 10 years. This is definitely one of the highlights of the disc.

4. Cira, Regina E Nana (Para Nana)

Curumin assisted on this one, sampling the sounds of an acoustic guitar and then sequencing them as if they were a drum beat. The rest is classic Santtana; fluid guitar playing, catchy melody and a voice that seems to swim through the music, effortlessly guiding it on it’s course.

5. Recado Para Pio Lobato

Santtana’s previous album 3 Sessions In A Greenhouse was something of an exercise in dub, and this is the closest that he gets to that style of music here. Deep bass, rhythmic strumming and guitars that sound alternately like a clavichord and a synth keep this instrumental consistently interesting. Regis Damasceno (of Cidadão Instigado) lends a hand.

6. Hold Me In

Second collaboration with Arto Lindsay. It’s one of five songs on the album which are sung in English. With four songs being instrumentals, this makes English the dominant language on the album. Something that is quite unusual considering Santtana is currently not too comfortable with his spoken English. In a recent interview he stated three reasons for using English; first is the fact that him and Arto have always collaborated using English lyrics and this felt natural, secondly he feels English is a big part of Brazilian culture due to it’s prominence through music and arts, and third is that it’s easier to write percussive songs with English (such as on “Who Can Say Which Way?”) as the syllables of words are generally shorter.

7. Amor Em Jacumã

Cover of Dom Um Romão’s samba-jazz classic, taken from his 1976 album Hotmosphere. This also appeared on Mr Bongo’s recent reissue of Cravo e Canela’s classic Preço de Cada Um album. Buguinha Dub helps with the production, which has elements of dub as well as electronic splutters and samples that keep the song skipping along. Here’s an acoustic version of the song from the Musica de Bolso people:

8. I Can’t Live Far From My Music

The last of the collaborations with Arto Lindsay, though this time one with a very different feel. With Kabo Duca who played percussion on his guitar’s body and an orchestra of guitars that dance between ominous chords and sharp strums, it’s a song that manages to combine rhythm and a darker feel.

9. Cá Pra Nós

A collaboration with Ronei Jorge that’s one of the most unique tracks here. Vocals are continually at the front as the guitar shatters into a hundred pieces shining in the sun until vocal hums and a single acoustic pulls the song into more-standard territory.

10. O Violão De Mario Bros

Carrying on the theme of “Super Violão Mashup” and using the help of Gustavo Lenza and Lucas Martins again, though this time with João Brasil behind the controls. Guitars pop, shudder, bounce and charge through one minute and 38 seconds of pure joy.

11. Ripple of the Water (Para Nana)

Recorded in Rio de Janeiro’s Botanical Gardens at night with the glow of the moon and an army of insects as company. This is the most traditional song on the album. After all, it really is just a voice and a guitar, as well as featuring the kind of allegorical lyric that could have been written by João Gilberto or Caymmi.

12. Natureza Nº 1 Em Mi Maior

The last track, and an instrumental too. It sounds like the microphone was left on after “Ripple of the Water”, capturing the night’s atmosphere as well as other-wordly sounds that presumably come from the guitar but yet which are at times unrecognisable. Eventually a series of guitar chords bring the song, and the album, to a conclusion.

by Russ Slater

Sem Nostalgia was released by Mais Um Discos on August 29th and is available from Amazon and iTunes.

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