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by World Music Network September 02, 2015


Out Now: The Rough Guide To Psychedelic Samba

Chameleon-like Brazilian samba absorbed psychedelic influences from the 1960s onwards. From original innovators such as Ney Matogrosso (featured here with Vitor Ramil) and Wal Sant’ana, to modern innovators Gui Amabis and Luciano Salvador, dig those spaced out Psychedelic Samba grooves!

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In much the same way that the blues have informed so much Euro-American popular music in the last century, so too has the comparatively rough-and-ready but chameleon-like 2/4 tempo of samba, which has leaked into everything Brazilian from funk, jazz and soul to hip-hop, indie rock, folk and psychedelic rock.

This compilation takes psychedelia as a starting-point, without being too purist about the 2/4 bit. That would deprive us of the joys of Bahia Bass, funky 4/4 psych-soul samba and the countless other permutations of the last few years. 

Compiling this album provided a totally fresh revelation even for this hoary compiler, who came across Iuri Andrade whilst searching for something completely different. Carioca Iuri, whose day job is as frontman for the psych rock band Andrade E A Torre, has effected a near-perfect combination of the best of psychedelic atmosphere with samba rhythm in this and other home-studio tracks that the listener is urged to search out on the internet. In the same vein – but from Bahia – is former Daniela Mercury sideman (guitar, keyboards) Luciano Salvador, with a track from his second CD, in tandem with the evocative voice of fellow soteropolitana Ana Rocha.

Then we have two household names. The first, Marcos Valle, needs little introduction for even the novice Brazilian music fan. Valle’s half-century of music-making has encompassed everything from deep jazz to TV commercials, so it’s no surprise to hear him master the psychedelic samba style with such characteristic aplomb. Then comes Ney Matogrosso, whose gender-defying voice and stage outfits were scandalous in macho 70s Brazil, as a founder member of Secos E Molhados, one of Brazil’s truly great psych-rock bands.  Here he’s a guest of Vitor Ramil, surely the finest Brazilian singer-songwriter that almost no-one’s ever heard of.  Vitor’s double-album from which this track comes - No Mês Que Bem - is one of the most accomplished Brazilian works of the last decade.

From Minas Gerais, Graveola’s wispy close harmonies seem influenced by Mineiro church-choral tradition as much as by The Mamas And The Papas, whilst altogether more intense psychedelic samba-choro is provided by sax master Thiago França and dramatic vocalist Juçara Marçal- together, Metá Metá. 

Samba-rock had its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s, but the obscure, highly collectable and only 7” by Wal Sant’ana from 1973 added mescaline to the mix. In Recife, former Naçao Zumbi cohorts Zalumbi bring a little mangue-beat action to the psych party.

Sexy Fi and Binario are both signings from the UK’s venerable and venerated Brazil-beat label Far Out, whilst back in Bahia we have a home-run of three heavy-duty Bahia Bass dancefloor cuts with a psych-samba-reggae undertow- Ba_Co, Poeta De Aço and  BaianaSystem frontman Russo Passapusso.

Gui Amabis turns in the unsettling and Pink Floyd-esque ‘Trabalhos Carnivoros’ from his 2012 album of the same name and finally, to show that the North Americans can do it too, Washington D.C.’s only 1960s Tropicália-inspired, Alma Tropicália, weigh in with Irene.