Tag Archives: Tropicalia

A Walk Through the Tropical Paradise of the Monster Rally Catalogue

Monster Rally

It’s impossible to listen to Monster Rally without imagining a series of island ephemera: souvenir shop knick-knacks, discarded leaves from palm trees, drinks with umbrellas. Since his debut as Monster Rally in 2010, musician and visual artist Ted Feighan has built a discography that relies heavily on the warm, breezy sound of Tropicália and the glamour of Old Hollywood—with traces of calypso, island jazz, and bachelor pad music thrown in for good measure.

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Album of the Day: Piri, “Vocês Querem Mate?”

Have you listened to Os Mutantes as much as humanly possible? Is there no aspect of Gilberto Gil that remains unexplored? Are you able to sing every note on “Tropicália: ou Panis et Circensis” and hum all the basslines AT THE SAME TIME?

Boy, are you in for a treat.

Behold, Vocês Querem Mate?—an obscure slab of 1970-vintage Brazilian psych-folk that packs an afternoon’s worth of delicate trippiness into 28 minutes. (It is two minutes longer and approximately 3,000 times sunnier than Slayer’s 1986 release, Reign in Blood.) Reissued by Far Out (they are really doing God’s work here), Vocês Querem Mate? is the brainchild of one Piry Reis, joined by fellow Brazilian flautists Paulinho Jobim and Danilo Caymmi, and brilliant percussionists Juquina and Wilson Das Neves.

On tracks like the deeply groovy “As Incríveis Peripécias De Danilo,” acoustic guitar, flute, bass, and percussion blur together into ecstatic bliss-out, with the timbre of Reis’s voice compelling you to turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream.

And again, this is compact stuff; the ecstatic “Cupído Esculpido” clocks in at a downright epic 3:06, complete with a groove that could easily hold up for another hour or so. The title translates as “Carved Cupid” which seems, on the surface, odd, given the music’s impossibly cool swing and lilt (and even more absurd given the faintly ridiculous album cover).

But the first track is called “Reza Brava” which translate to “Pray Hard.” “Sombra Morta” translates to “Dead Shadow.” There’s an edge here, the same sort of subdermal melancholia that animated Love’s 1967 album, Forever Changes. But underneath the acoustic guitars, light drums, and vocals that even Johnny Mathis wouldn’t sneeze at, there could be something very dark indeed. Desfrute, mas cuidado. A morte está em toda parte.

—Joe Gross

Azymuth’s “Fênix” Rises

Azymuth

Jazz-funk trio Azymuth rose—already aflame—from the fluorescent ashes of the countercultural, kaleidoscopic world of Tropicalismo (or tropicalia). Since the early ‘70s, the Rio de Janeiro natives have gone on to create their own signature style, “samba doido” (“crazy samba”), an electric mix of spacious jazz with heavy funk and traditional Brazilian folk rhythms. They’ve been one of Brazil’s most experimentally daring groups for decades running.

Over two dozen studio albums later, they’ve gone through a difficult lineup change for 2016’s Fênix. Legendary keyboardist José Roberto Bertrami tragically passed away in 2012, and Kiko Continentino, a skilled pianist who’d also been a student of Bertrami’s, inherited his place in the group alongside drummer Ivan “Mamão” Conti and upright bassist/composer Alex Malheiro. Fênix is their first new material since Bertrami’s death, and, as the title suggests, this is Azymuth reborn in their latest configuration.

While Bertrami was obviously a core component of the samba doido sound, Moraes faithfully carries on his legacy. Fênix is a soulful, blissed-out head trip of a record, a cosmic daydream that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with some of Azymuth’s ‘70s classics (Azimuth, Light As A Feather). Samba doido’s classic characteristics—slick, supple bass lines, syncopated percussion, and iridescent keyboards—are all here, and the group’s chemistry and energy is unflagging. Recently returned from an Azymuth European tour, we caught up with Conti, who shared the challenges and pleasures of the group’s recharged life.

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