Mondomix, the worldwide music website reveals ten Brazilian artists albums that you should never leave home without
It’s a mystery why Tim Maia, one of the most incredible Brazilian soul singers of all time and a talismanic cult icon at home, is not more widely known. He died aged 55 after a life of technicolor excess. This album was one of two LPs recorded during his Racional period – his immersion into a cult religion that claimed humanity’s salvation lay in outer space. The lyrics are a soul-shredding cry to join up. Epic and essential.
Recommended album: Racional Vol. 1 (Seroma/Trama)
Seu Jorge exudes a rare, effortless charisma on screen and on stage. As Knockout Ned in the movie City of God he breezed into worldwide consciousness. And as a singer, with that deep, melting baritone, he has become one of Brazil’s most celebrated artists. Whether it’s stripped-down samba, tropical blues, pysch-rock or covers (everyone from Elvis to Roy Ayers and David Bowie), Seu Jorge’s sound is soulful and compelling.
Recommended album: Cru (Fla Flu/Naïve)
Chico Science & Nação Zumbi
Boom! In the 1990s they lit a fuse in their hometown of Recife by mixing North-Eastern roots rhythms maracatu and coco with hip-hop, rock and power-to-the-people politics. Their incendiary Manguebeat sound dynamited Brazil’s notion of its own musical future. Despite Chico Science’s tragic early death in 1997, NZ remain a legendary touch-stone.
Recommended album: Da Lama Ao Caos (Sony)
Tropicália’s radical outsider, Tom Zé is a giant of musical experimentation, with his mantra “I’m confusing you to enlighten you”. Growing up in the brutally poor backlands of Bahia, his love of improvisation can be traced back to the North-East’s rural poets. Under Brazil’s military dictatorship, Zé became a master of political satire, but it’s the sheer inventive freedom of his work that makes him such a massive counter-cultural hero.
Recommended album: The Best of Tom Zé (Luaka Bop)
La Pupuña do Amazonian psychedelic surf music with The Clash, Dick Dale and Pink Floyd thrown in. They are at the heart of Belem’s buzzing music scene, mixing rock, merengue, surf music, and brega (Belem’s bubblegum pop) with guitarrada – and they rock!
Recommended album: All Right Penoso (Ná Music)
Mashing Pernambucan folklore – frevo horns, maracatu rhythms and coco choruses – into dance beats, Recife’s DJ Dolores (AKA Helder Aragão) epitomises the way Brazilian artists can channel roots and electronica together, and he was a pioneer. Today he is a sought-after producer and remixer and one of the best global DJs out there.
Recommended album: DJ Dolores & Orchestra Santa Massa – Contraditorio? (Sterns)
Kassin – Moreno – Domenico + 2
These three prolific talents are at the epicentre of Rio’s avant-garde. Enigmatic bassist and producer Kassin, dreamy singer-songwriter Moreno Veloso and rhythm maestro Domenico operate as a shape-shifting trio. Taking turns to lead the band, they bring the sweetest melodies to an experimental realm, making seductive pop with unexpected twists. One of them is the son of Caetano but they could all be Tom Zé’s offspring.
Recommended album: Kassin + 2 Futurismo (Luaka Bop)
The all-encompassing tag MPB (Brazilian Popular Music) found yet another new dimension with Lenine’s sinuous rock. He’s hugely respected as a master song-writer (as Milton Nascimento, Sergio Mendes and Dionne Warwick can tell you!) and over a decade since it was released, this album stands as a classic.
Recommended album: Na Pressão (BMG)
Grupo Cultural AfroReggae seeks to offer young people an alternative to the violent drug trafficking gangs endemic across the Rio’s favelas. They use music, dance, capoeira, circus and theatre projects as a force for change, and have become a cultural NGO of international renown.
Recommended DVD: Favela Rising (Mr Bongo)
It’s impossible to overstate his importance in the history of music in Brazil, where he is revered as an untouchable superstar. With that other colossus, Gilberto Gil, Veloso was one of the key figures behind the Tropicália movement of the late 60s, heralding pop’s new status as a vehicle for protest and social change. This album was recorded live at a concert in Rimini, Italy, in honour of the Fellinis. The performance is very emotional, almost vulnerable, and so moving.
Recommended album: Omaggio A Federico e Giulietta (Universal)