Various ‘Jambú e Os Míticos Sons Da Amazônia’ 2LP/CD (Analog Africa) 5/5

Would you believe me if I said the album of Summer 2019 was full of music made in the 70s? Just one listen to Analog Africa’s latest compilation, Jambú e os Míticos Sons da Amazônia, and I promise you’ll be convinced. The album, compiled by Samy Ben Redjeb and Carlos Xavier, is full of 19 gems of Amazonian dance music from the northern Brazilian state of Pará.

Redjeb and Xavier were obviously inspired by the robust history of the region, evidenced not only by the music they included but also by the name they chose for the album. The Jambú plant is widely used in Paraense cuisine and medicine for its analgesic and hunger-stimulating properties, a clue of what’s in store once you press play.

Jambú e os Míticos is brimming with the sounds of siriá, carimbó, and bambiá, musical traditions that draw attention to the relationship between escaped slaves and indigenous populations. This mixing of traditions lead to the creation of some pretty incredible sounds that remained mostly isolated to Northern Brazil, that is until they experienced a resurgence in the 60s and 70s with Brazil’s sound –system culture. And here they are, unearthed again and offered to us by Analog Africa.

Jambú e os Míticos is more than simply a presentation of good music, it is cultural preservation, it is history in action. The music traditions represent the melding of oppressed cultures and the survival instinct underpinning it all. You can hear the sounds of Africa in the call and response that echoes throughout the album; you can feel her in the drums. The Amazon comes through in the flutes and the maracas.

I recently moved and this album is adding so much joy to unpacking, painting, and hammering. Always one for a party Jambú e os Míticos’ vintage vibe is the perfect soundtrack to my housewarming. I can see it in my mind when I listen to “Pai Xango”. The track is playing while my best friends sip on icy drinks served in deep green glasses and laugh in the dying light of the day.

“Meu Barquinho” by Janjão is my favourite track on the album; full of call and response like many of the other songs, the difference here is that the respondents are women. Their sweet voices perfectly juxtapose the deep male lead voice. The percussion moves right through you and before you even know its happening, you’re bobbing your head, nodding your agreement to every beat.

And really, you’ll find yourself agreeing with every song. What I loved about this album is that it embodies what I love most about music, particularly when it’s live. That you get to watch the people you admire really enjoying themselves. Those moments are all over this album. You can hear the artists laughing, hollering and being full of joy. They may be organic but they are no accident. Jambú e os Míticos is bringing the Brazilian sound system to your backyard. Sound system culture came about in the 60s and 70s amidst a wave of similar movements across Latin America. It consisted mainly of street parties where mostly black people would come together and celebrate being alive, creating a rare occasion for people to cast off the weight off oppression and just be. In this way, Jambú lives up to its name. The album is a balm for the soul, easing our troubles and making space to find joy again.

Molly Gallegos