Few places in the world have as much musical diversity as Brazil. In 2021, despite the isolation imposed on its artists and the reduction in productions due to the pandemic, Brazilian music has continued its search for new sounds, the symbol of it modern music scene. These artists have a natural resilience.
The exploration of ancestral music is the starting point for many of this year’s projects. Musicians of the Okalonam percussion trio from Pernambuco bring their African drums to urban soundscapes. Singer Helayna Cristini augments the spiritual rites and African-Brazilian festivals of her native Paraíba with electronics. Thiago França leads a spectacular charanga that combines the carnival of African religious blocks with Ethiopian jazz and New Orleans swing. In Rio, for his first solo album, Salgueiros percussionist and composer Fred Camacho (the artist who has long been behind samba stars such as Beth Carvalho, Arlindo Cruz and Maria Rita) evokes alabê rhythms, the sound of Candomblé. Continuing down the path traced by Lineker in order to strengthen the visibility of LGBTQ people, Linn da Quebrada of Sao Paulo straddles the border of baile funk and techno macumba.
This year electronics and remote production have given many artists the chance to create limitless sounds and rhythms. Take the sumptuous new album from Carioca’s Rodrigo Amarante for example. After 18 years of accompanying sambistas and forró musicians, the cavaquinho player Nelson Brederode set out to immerse his music in layers of electro. Inspired by Spotify ads weaving tracks in and out, gaucho producer Chico Algo has shaped his loops from samples, grooves and haunting rhythms. Founded in São Paulo, the psychedelic combo Os Barbapapas (somewhere between electro and Tropicália) is releasing its first album on the German label Fun In The Church. Mel Gonçalves, a survivor of the tecnobrega group Banda Uó, has produced a light-hearted version of Rita Lee’s classic Mutante.
In Brazil, bossa, soul, jazz, samba and electro are usually mixed with more commercial rhythms. Brazilian rap stars such as Rincon Sapiência have come together with RnB artists. The Minas Gerais rapper and social activist Flávio Renegado has made a track with 91-year-old Elsa Soares, who is always ready to support the younger generation. But the prize for genre mixing really goes to Caco Pontes and his project Baião de Spokens, which combines spoken word, samples, remixes, musical performances and a great mix of rhythms. It’s a superb opportunity for the Sao Paulo artist to speak out about the appalling policies of his country’s leaders, whose dark past the singer Guto Brant reminds us of and, in doing so, reminds us of the inherent commitment of music and the arts against sectarian thinking.