By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
Proibido Cochilar: Sambas for Sleepless Nights
Frank London's Klezmer Brass Allstars
Carnival Conspiracy: In the Marketplace All Is Subterfuge
During the late '60s tropicália movement, artists like Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil revolutionized Brazilian music by fusing multiple rhythmic roots sounds from their native Bahia with the prevailing global obsessions with psychedelic rock, R&B, and modal jazz. In the 1990s, a little farther up the northeastern coast in Recife, Chico Science used similar principles to create his brash mangue beat, an audacious mix of regional styles like forró and maracatu with funk, metal, hip hop, techno, and rock.
Now Cabruêra (literally a group of goats, but implying the common folk), a band from the state of Paraíba, build on the late Science's legacy with their own mashing of styles. Proibido Cochilar (Sleeping Prohibited) is an urgent, raucous clash of subtly complex roots indigenous to northeastern Brazil--coco, maculelê, galope--hot-wired, funked up, and laced with slivers of electronica, rock, jazz, and a dozen other things too incestuously interwoven to sort. The entire concoction pulsates with the sensuous spirit that fuels Carnival. It's at its earthiest on the sole genuine samba, "Eu Sambo." The accordion-spiced "Xingatório," the CD's purest forró (which bears an uncanny resemblance to zydeco), is still riddled with funk and twitching with rapid-fire vocals. Elsewhere, jungle, drum 'n' bass, and rock shoot through raw mixes dense with charging polyrhythms, while Arthur Pessoa's gruff, keening vocals prompt call-and-response sniping.
Trumpeter Frank London and his Klezmer Brass Allstars make an unlikely connection to northeastern Brazil by sharing tropicália's mix-and-match intrigue and diving into such rhythms as maracatu. With the Klezmatics and dozens of side projects, London has spiked Jewish old-world music with everything from Led Zeppelin to avant-garde jazz. This time he draws inspiration from the inherently subversive spirit of Carnival, cobbling together the street sounds of shtetls, Pernambuco, the French Quarter, and the Lower East Side. On Carnival Conspiracy, a clarinet chortling minor-key klezmer melodies soars over soul-rumbling samba beats, while horns interject thunderheads of dirty blues riffs. Or a hora becomes a slam dance to the riffs of a Mexican banda.
In both cases this is provocative, even fierce, cross-cultural pollination that connects at visceral and intellectual levels. It's the very stuff of Carnival, where the boldest concepts of common humanity fuel the party spirit.