Ramiro Musotto,
(Fast Horse, 2003)

Brazil has given the world some of its most interesting and popular music, and some of its strangest. This disc by the percussionist/programmer Ramiro Musotto is in the latter category.

From Antonio Carlos "Tom" Jobim's bossa nova to Caetano Veloso Gilberto Gil and Milton Nascimento's Musica Popular Brasileira (MPB), through the various forms of music such as capoeira, samba and forro, Brazilian musicians have never ceased to experiment. Though Musotto's music seems rooted in MPB (he has played percussion with Gil and Veloso) it carries the listener to quite another level.

Sudaka is an unusual disc, even by Brazilian standards. Depending on your point of view, it could be either a work of great genius or an excessive and ambitious mistake. It's a disc in which raucous horns compete with repetitive voice samples from field recordings, from movies on "Antonio das Mortes," from records on "Camino/Ginga," added to clanging, relentless percussion and weird electronics -- all of which produce a kind of hypnosis in the listener.

Musicians featured include Jorge Continentino (distorted clarinets), Espigo de la Loza (microtonal harmonization and synth bass), Lulu Santos (ebow guitar), Gato Barbieri (tenor sax) and a host of others.

The field recordings (including a local bottle collector on "Botellero," an Amazonian native community, African pygmy communities on "Bayaca," children and assorted locals on "Xavantes") are unfortunately often lost in the force-field of electronica surrounding them.

Sudaka is probably quite danceable, though it's not the kind of music that gets you moving spontaneously. The individual tracks don't have contemporary song structure (i.e., a beginning, middle and end) but seem to bang on relentlessly. The voices tend to repeat and repeat. In the right context, though, it might be, if not enjoyable, at least atmospheric.

There is something desensitizing about all this relentlessness, often like the sounds of an industrial plant. (For those who DO work on an assembly line, do they really want to hear this kind of sound while out on a Friday night?) Yet there is something authentic about the music, something that does remind one of the deep African and Amazonian roots in the Brazilian sound. Graft those roots directly into the rhythms of the post-industrial age and this is what you get. I'm not saying it's pleasant.

- Rambles
written by David Cox
published 17 April 2004

Buy it from Amazon.com.