Willie Reviews “Jambú e Os Míticos Sons Da Amazônia”

Willie Reviews “Jambú e Os Míticos Sons Da Amazônia”

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Archival label Analog Africa’s new compilation, Jambú e Os Míticos Sons Da Amazônia, is a joyful celebration of the city of Belém do Pará in Brazil in decades past. Not familiar? You will be! Featuring the artists who popularized styles like carimbó, siriá, and bambiá, the album is a new look into a scene at its most exciting time. This nighttime music is still fresh, urgent, and cool. RPM’s review:

 

It will long be my weakness to follow some unexplained urge and hoard huge, multi-disc compilations, adding them to my ever-growing reservoir of recordings. After the initial thrill of transporting myself into an obscure or bygone musical moment, there’s often a moment of dread where I realize I’m getting nothing from it. Despite accessing something special, the intimate relationship with the record is not there. It’s a problem of oversaturation, and it’s a problem of undue commitment. If, like me, you keep finding yourself on the hunt for the next niche corner of music history, the archival compilation can be a close friend. But you can also quickly disregard its weight and power. So how do you approach these marvels of the decentralized music industry without falling into the trap of a flat listening experience? First, find something highly localized and passionately constructed, then throw yourself into it with all your might.

 

 

 

Analog Africa’s Jambú e Os Míticos Sons Da Amazônia presents an unforgettable portrait of time and place. Belém do Pará, a central city in the northern Brazilian state of Pará, exhibits the musical markers of its port city history. Its population is indigenous, Brazilian, and Carribean, and its musical traditions draw on the Afro-Caribbean styles to the north and the Afro-Brazilian styles throughout the rest of the country. Countless offshoots of samba, carimbó, and traditional music from the Amazon region combine to form something totally local to Belém. Jambú draws from recordings of the ‘60s and ‘70s, when radio broadcasting and the recording industry were booming. It was the sound of a city, eager to celebrate its accelerating cross-cultural invention and be heard by all those who cared to listen.

 

A good through-line to follow is the simple fact that this is music for nightlife. The album’s compilers talk about the importance of sound system culture growing the sound of Belém. The same people bringing the sounds to family get-togethers were bringing it to clubs. The prevailing rhythm is the duple meter, strong-weak-strong-weak sound heard both in the bass and the percussion. There’s a constant and eternal fight between the high and the low that makes it highly danceable. Pinduca’s “Vamos Farrear” introduces the shakers, electric guitar, and call-and-response vocals that define many of the tracks. On these songs, everything is a little bit syncopated. There are no impenetrable polyrhythms, but there is a refreshing offset to every little musical moment.

 

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The instrumentation is the most changeable and surprising element on the album. There are entirely acoustic tracks, like “Da Garrafa uma pinga,” shaker heavy and acoustically small. In contrast two tracks later, we find an ultramodern electric guitar-driven track in “Xangô.” There’s no mistaking the offbeat that inhales both clean and sharp. But a more realistic representation of the average instrumentation is “Coco Da Bahia.” It’s not quite bossa nova, but definitely smooth, and combines electric guitar with a chorus of bells. It is no surprise that the instrumentation would be so interchangeable. After every imaginable style has gained some amount of popularity, you’re free to do as you wish.

 

The label draws attention to the “exotic” and “mysterious” sounds of the record and its ties to the dense rainforest surrounding it. And yes, the album owes much to the Amazon, which is reflected through mentionings of landmarks and places; however, it’s hard for a city of 1.5 million people to be mysterious in that way. It’s easier to market the music as a long-lost relic, I suppose, but this is the sound of city-dwellers, old and new, who were expanding, not contracting into their surroundings. The narrative of the album carries all the way through to the moment you’ll listen to it. Assuming you’re not from Belém or the surrounding area, it has taken until now for this music’s sonic rays to reach you. And I can’t imagine any of the artists are upset or surprised by this. Many of the musicians are still around, and their influence is palpable. Living music is a much more exhilarating and real prospect. The day we get a compilation of original recordings from 1600, I’ll admit to the exoticness. But while you can still encounter these folks on the street, the only barrier to entry is your interest! If you are intrigued, the surrounding elements of the culture may interest you too. Maybe you want to trace the history of a certain rhythm or read about concurrent events during the music’s recording. You can! This recording can be an object of interest from afar, or it can be the spark that incites further exploration. So give a care, and you may be pleasantly surprised.

 

Score: There’s no chance you’ll dislike this, okay?

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