On The Margins

By 09 March, 2024

Welcome back. This month I offer two helpings of Afro-futurist world funk from the amazing QTV label, some Lynch-like lounge jazz, heavy metal pagode and as much alternative samba as you can manage.

Juçara Marçal – DEBRMX (QTV Selo)

These 15 tracks from Marçal’s recent stellar work in Delta Estácio Blues (2021) and EPDEB (2022) have been remixed by cutting edge electronic music artists from all over Brazil and further afield. Normally when I see a remix album I imagine that it’s recycling old material or pushing recent material back into streaming playlists, but here the original idea of Delta Estácio Blues is fully expanded, managing to bring together black music from over the world, from the Congo to Philadelphia to Paraná, from baile funk to techno to Amapiano to industrial, with wild reinventions of the original tracks. The album opens with “Não Reparem”, a sound collage by Bartira, but with Marçal’s powerful voice pushed to the fore. Moor Mother remixes “Odumbiodé”, going back to its roots with talking drum and then filling it out with brooding atmospherics. DJ RaMeMes’ remix of “Ladra” is deconstructed baile funk, and “Um Choro” by Telefunksoul and DJ Werson will introduce many listeners to Bahia bass, a recent fusion of Bahian culture and bass music. The title track is remixed by Kenya20Hz, award winning DJ and resident at the Carlos Capslock parties, so logically she considers the dancefloor and serves up five minutes of stuttering techno.

Crizin de Z.O. – Acelero (QTV Selo)

Yet another fine release from QTV, who continue their mission to release forward-looking future funk, music based on baile funk but merging with punk rock, hardcore, gabba, rap and even some samba. On this, his 4th album, Cris Onofre creates beats and vocals and works principally with Danilo Machado and Marcelo Feidler, but there are other interesting contributors. For example, Iggor Cavalera (Mixhell, Sepultura) appears on the first track “O fim um”, which is a screeching tribal metal hybrid and nicely sets the tone. “De repente” uses the tamborzão of baile funk with a violin sample to create a dense claustrophobic atmosphere. As Onofre gloomily says in the release, “I witness the end’s various nuances in front of me from Neopentecostal Evangelism to the spirit and flesh surrender in February (namely Carnival)”. The (almost) title track “Acelerado” contributes to the apocalyptic theme with its drilling synths and chaotic sensation of nothing is going to change and everything is spinning out of control. Something to cheer us up, then.

Wi-Fi Kills – Same-Thing Variations (Zoom Discos)

Bit late to the game with this one, having discovered this album/EP at the end of last year, but racing to the finishing line is this mad piece of electro/garage/trash straight outta Curitiba. Singing in Portuguese for the first time, Wi-Fi Kills look at the harm technology is doing to us. “Low-tech life” sounds like the B52s bouncing off the walls having just hoovered up a huge amount of bathtub sulphate. “Novo Normal” refers to the new normal of post-pandemic living and “Corel Draw”, an ironic homage to the image-editing software, is a frenzied Devo-style bop-along. In fact there is an obvious love of early Devo throughout the EP, but put that sound through half a dozen fuzz pedals, record it all on a 4-track Tascam and you get the idea.

Various Artists – funk.BR – São Paulo (NTS)

NTS have put out a series of compilations that explore various genres but this is the first compilation by a non-Brazilian label to highlight São Paulo’s vast and ever-expanding baile funk scene, which is very much at the level of competing Rio and BH productions. This was curated by music journalists Jonathan Kim and Felipe Maia and there’s a wide representation of the sub-genres mandelão and ritmado from the different neighbourhoods, and Leo 17 reminds us why the bruxeria sound is currently exploding in raves with his furious bass-drum dominated track. “Montagem Phonk Brasileiro” by DJ Arana uses wild video game noises that are timed with the expletives, and frankly there are many expletives. Maybe the foreign ear does not pick up on this, but the language of baile funk is a filthy world of dicks, pussy, and single as well as double entendres. Listening to a 22-track album of this obsessive and relentless gutter talk in one go gets pretty exhausting. However, São Paulo’s brightest names are present; Bonekinha Iraquiana (great name – Iraqi small doll), and producers such as the always interesting Deekapz and DJ Tonias (producer for Pabllo Vittar and Anitta under the name Maffalda), who offers respite in a short, laid-back minimalist affair. DJ K, fresh from his release of an album on Nyege Nyege Tapes with accompanying festival appearances is also featured with a typically imaginative piece, combining wild bleeps and arabic flute. DJ Lorrany refreshes our memory to why we shouldn’t always try to translate song titles with the delightfully titled “Mandela Cunt”.

Grimório de Abril –  Castelo d’​Á​gua (Municipal K7)

Cassette label Municipal K7 releases another bout of ambient weirdness recalling the hinterlands of São Paulo. Veridiana Sanchez is originally from Garça but now studies philosophy in the capital. I wouldn’t say there’s a signature sound with Municipal K7, but the artists do share a hypnagogic worldview that seeps into the recordings, a disturbed state between sleep and wakefulness. Sanchez plays guitar and piano but myriad effects and sounds enhance her production. “Argila dos Sonhos” has a nursery rhyme quality to her layered vocal, creating a creepy deep-in-the-woods quality that is intensified with a great deal of unnerving effects. “Ophidic Haze” starts like Angelo Badalamenti, then adds tabla and further levels of layered weirdness, while “A Distância Entre Duas Constelações” is a world of Durutti Column guitar chimes and disembodied voice messages, in other words, a fascinating production full of delightful details.

Mombojó – Carne de Caju (Self-released)

Mombojó are part of the Pernambuco heritage that takes us from the psychedelic guitar of Robertinho do Recife to the manguebeat of Chico Science to his continued legacy in Mundo Livre S.A. Arising from a healthy Pernambucano music scene in the early 2000s, although one still reeling from the death of Chico Science, the music of the capital, Recife, is thriving in Mombojó’s music – and even more so in this release, as it’s a homage to their compatriot Alceu Valença, a pioneer from the ’70s who mixed traditional Northeastern rhythms and counterculture rock with lyrics about life in the country’s interior. Rather than a straight covers album, the group have chosen some of Valença’s deep cuts mainly taken from his ’80s catalogue, songs that the group remember from their childhood and the music that their parents were listening to. “Estação da Luz” runs on fuzzed-out ’60s grooves, while “Romance da Bela Inês” adds more than a touch of brega to its reggae rhythm. However, it’s “Olinda”, at once wistful but slightly funky, a spaced-out homage to the beauty of Recife’s neighbouring historical city, that is the highlight for me.

Fellini – Amanhã é Tarde (Edição 2023) (midsummer madness)

Fellini originally came out of the São Paulo post-punk scene, part of the Baratos Afins roster, an incredibly important indie label and shop, based in the city centre. The main songwriters were Cadão Volpato, journalist and writer, and Thomas Pappon, with a background playing in Smack and Voluntários de Patria, both clued up bands with their own extraordinary stories. What they added to the scene was a wildly original sound that was part lo-fi bossa nova and part ramshackle Stranglers copyists (albeit with a more esoteric line in lyrical matter). Their initial quadrilogy of albums were sparse works, each full of hidden treasures, with one track even making its way onto the John Peel show. Eventually, they went their separate ways, Pappon moving to London and Volpato continuing to record as well as writing a fascinating book chronicling those early Fellini days. Thus, this new vinyl release is a late-period project, and was originally released on CD back in 2001, so they shortened its running time, tightened up most of the tracks and re-mixed the title track. It sticks to their lo-fi roots, as it was recorded on a 4-track in a London sitting room and their charm continues to shine through. The light, springing samba of “Polichinelo” enchants from the get-go, while they still retain their weirdness in the looped strings and swooning chorus of “As Peles”. The idiosyncratic world of Fellini is still well worth investigating.

Guerrinha – Exposição Popular (Self Released/2 headed deer)

Guerrinha is Gabriel Guerra, born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, 30 years young but with 75 records to his name, some of which have been released by the label he manages, 40% Foda/Maneiríssimo, specialising in top Rio house and electronica exponents. Exposição Popular is a surprisingly odd listen: there are elements of soundtrack jazz, but it mainly sounds like a long lost ECM album with heavy ’80s fusion vibes and lots of nocturnal ambience. It’s skillfully performed, for example the tasteful jazzy organ riff on “A Sétima Doninha” with accompanying Pat Metheny-like guitar interjections. “Edifício Argentina” offers perfect late-night atmospherics and smoky space-age music with MOR smooth sax straight from a David Sanborn album. There’s a phantasmagoric end-of-the-pier quality to the organ in “Sala de Espera”, akin to a jazz band playing in a dingy bar from a David Lynch movie, subdued but menacingly in the background.

Lencinho – Só as melhores (Vitor Brauer)

Pagode is the sound of a thousand bars and barbecues, an extremely popular and faster version of samba, it’s specifically designed for dancing and singing amongst large gatherings involving plenty of beer and food. It is not known for its sophistication. So, here come Lencinho playing something I thought I’d never hear: alternative pagode. Lencinho are part of the Geração Perdida de Minas Gerais movement (lost generation of Minas Gerais), a collective put together by artist, musician, writer, producer Vitor Brauer, who plays a major part in contributing to and producing this album. It has the fast, bouncing percussive rhythm of pagode, the rowdy sing-a-longs, but with heavy guitar riffs and the occasional atonal squall. The slightly off-key singing of vocalist Bernardo Cunha is quite charming and the band sound like they’re having a ball. It’s as if Nação Zumbi had formed in a bar in downtown São Paulo instead of adopting their beloved Maracatu from Recife.


Paola Rodrigues – “Cria de Praia” (self-released)

This independent multi-faceted artist from Bahia has just released this single of ambient spoken word with an outstanding production of glitches, ghostly slowed-down voices, and disjointed guitar.

Alphayatch – “Chocolate” (Hominis Canidae)

Alphayatch is Goiás-based B. Abdala, whose collage-based work I’ve featured before. Here he blends the rasteirinha from baile funk, spiritual-jazz-inspired saxophone honks, the gimbri from Morocco, and WhatsApp audio to achieve an engrossing listen. 

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