Thankfully, Oi! is not a trawl through a dubious underbelly of UK punk. It‚Äôs a two disc snapshot of recent Brazilian music from Amapa to Rio Grande Do Sul, Acre to Paraiba, mapping the places where indigenous forms meet dub, funk, psychedelia, and several other outer-national sub-genres. Of the 40 tracks I prefer those suggesting cool, dark alleys, mind warping neon surfboards, or vertigo-inducing rooftops, to others which feel like over-crowded hip-hop/carnival nether regions where ‚Äúparty‚Äù is a verb and Karl Pilkington dreams of quiet reverie during a hellish episode of An Idiot Abroad.
There is some fascinating cross pollination of styles to be heard on Oi! but it sometimes that is not enough. For example, while "Ovelhinhas" by Cidadao Instigado is intriguingly described as"schizophrenic brega" and the song wonders what becomes of the sheep people count in order to get to sleep, it‚Äôs actually sounds irritating. Thus, it conjures visions of mint sauce or rosemary; visions in which the sheep aren‚Äôt the ones being roasted. Which reminds me, included in this package is a great poster created in the style of lambe-lambe flyers (a popular way to promote gigs) on the reverse of which is a detailed breakdown of Brazilian regional music traditions, and a useful glossary.
From this I learned that Guitarrada is instrumental guitar music from Para. Indeed, there seems to be a Dick Dale faction lurking in Para, including the group La Pupuna, who very nearly prove that meringue and surf guitar can coexist. Some of the liner notes are unintentionally funny: for example the beautifully pretentious statement that manguebeat is more movement and manifesto than fusion of hip-hop, North Eastern rhythm, and rock. To which the punchline must be: Well, that's a relief. Other claims are spot on, as with the description of Instituto‚Äôs "Ossario" as a "brooding David Axelrod groove". ¬†There are some splendid pieces , not least the opening track by Mini Box Lunar, who sound a bit like like The Archies backed by a steel band covering Os Mutantes, on the dreamy, light, and affecting "Amarelasse".
I‚Äòve no idea what most of these artists are singing about, and if the one English language piece is anything to go by, that is a relief. Lucas Santtana may be something of a critical darling but his "Hold Me In" (which gives some composer credit to Arto Lindsay) is a fairly tedious ballad, less sultry trip-hop than weary drip-hop. Of all the regions included, Pernambuco is the most represented, with 13 pieces by different artists. Of these, Guardaloop‚Äôs "Oh Dub" isn‚Äôt the most exciting dub I have ever heard, but it is a good stylistic contrast to Roberto Correa‚Äôs striking fiddle work on " Cara Da Bronze", the swinging almost-Stereolab rhythms of Mombojo, and the lovely, and refreshingly simple, lament "Ca" by Julia Says.
The smallest state in Brazil is Sergipe on the East Coast, from whence come Naurea with perhaps the albums loudest and most aggresive track, "Hoje Tem Forro". Also rather good, is 3Namassa‚Äôs "Doce Gula" with a Gainsbourgesque suggestive groove and cool girl vocals by CeU. Compiled by Mais Um Gingo after a couple of years travel to festivals and shows, Oi! is great fun and gives welcome exposure to some of Brazil‚Äôs diverse innovations.