Various ‘Far Out presents: Brazilian Bass’ (Far Out) 4/5

far-out-bassBass culture is instinctively associated with either Jamaican dub and dancehall, or else hip-hop. However, Brazil has long soaked up these external musical flavours and internalised them with elements of samba. Far Out’s latest project has had the foresight to showcase this underground scene to a wider international audience. The capital of Brazilian bass happens to be Salvador which is the main city in the state of Bahia, situated in the north-east of the country and where the African heritage reaches its highest point. It is also the land where Afro-Brazilian religious cults such as candomblé predominates and where the sensuous melodies of composer Dorival Caymmi and his multi-talented musical family prevail. It is also the state that rightly regards itself as the very essence of Brazilian culture as wonderfully illustrated by that genius of words, writer Jorge Amado in his seminal book, ‘Bahia of all the Saints’, that is required reading for all budding scholars of Brazilian culture and understanding the north-eastern Brazilian psyche.

Brazilians are, by their very nature. open-minded about the music they listen to and this is reflected in the esoteric approach to the essentially hybrid music that is contained within this new compilation. Take the example of Mental Abstrato and DJ Tahira who come across as something akin to a Brazilian equivalent of Berlin’s Jazz Kollectiv and the number ‘Balão’ features some tasty accordion and keyboard amid a lovely jazzy bass line and samba percussion. Roots reggae became very popular in Brazil and the 1970s heart of the sub-genre has been retained by Junior Dread featuring Black Alien on ‘Lutar’ which could just as easily be out of Kingston but for the Portugese lyrics. Horn-led melodic dub reigns supreme on ‘Travessias’ by Aton dub with flute adding to the mix while instrumental dub effects envelope the female vocals of Anelis on ‘Bola com os amigos’. Those who yearn for another take on rootsy clubland electronica in a Brazilian setting aka Bebel Gilberto will be at ease with the instrumental ‘Pequi week bar’ by Sistema Carolina which has some catchy, if cheesy Latin keyboard vamps and acoustic guitar accompaniment. Meanwhile fans of traditional samba will be happy that they are catered for on the brass-led ‘Samba de novato’ by Banda Escola Pública while psychedelic grooves complete with rhythm guitar predominate on ‘Blindness’ by 3 Adub featuring Pitshu. Elsewhere reggaeton and samba combine on Bemba trios’ ‘Melô do Vatapá’. Overall, a fine example of contemporary Brazilian music and expertly selected by a triumvirate of Far Out owner Joe Davis and Brazilian music aficionados Jay Joannou and Vanessa Viola.

Tim Stenhouse