Various Artists Oi! A Nova Musica Brasileira Review

Compilation. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

Endorses Brazil’s proud musical heritage while drastically re-arranging it.

Colin Irwin 2010

The ease of downloading has ignited a culture of cherry picking that has pretty much sounded the death knell of the dear old compilation album. But it may still have a role in cutting out the legwork to trumpet a new movement – whether real, perceived or simply well marketed.

Don’t let the "Oi!" distract you – this isn’t a collection of dodgy punk bands. It’s a bold, colourful, all-guns-blazing double CD set devoted to emergent contemporary music from the Brazilian underground. Or, in the words of the sleeve notes, artists who "combine both domestic and international influences to create their own uniquely Brazilian musical language with global appeal."

The logo is certainly eye-catching enough, the information contained within exhaustive and, while no 40-track collection is going to deliver complete satisfaction, there’s enough here to excite the senses and demonstrate that not everything seeping into Western consciousness from Brazil need be rehashed bossa nova, novelty lambada or slinky samba variations. Indeed, while many of the featured artists do draw on traditional styles with a mellow context tempering the more extreme electro dance forms, the mostly subtle blend of hip hop, dub, acid jazz and even avant-garde coating make for some fascinating tracks. Highlights include China’s Colocando Sal Nas Feridas, Zé Neguinho do Côco’s Recife D’água, and especially Catarina Dee Jah’s quirkily irresistible M.I.A.-meets-Althea and Donna groove on Kay Fora.

The omnipresent suspicion surrounding any kind of fusion of this nature is one concerning self-indulgence and gimmickry and there are indeed moments, particularly on the mostly experimental and electronica-orientated second disc – Curumin’s self-consciously energised Caixa Preta is one example – where alien influences sound artificial and awkwardly faux. Yet these are mostly overshadowed by some trailblazing highs, from much heralded Mini Box Lunar’s joyously infectious opening track Amarelasse, manguebeat supergroup Orquestra Contemporãnes de Olinda’s gently skanking Tá Falado and the startlingly intimate singing of Tulipa on the lovely Pedrinho.

For an album whose whole raison d’être is diversity and risk, it hangs together remarkably well. Even in its most extreme moments the roots glimmer through, conversely endorsing Brazil’s proud musical heritage while drastically re-arranging it.

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