World wide weird

17 11 2014

The Brazilian city of Belem, on the banks of the Amazon, is best known for its colourful riverside market of rainforest herbs and strange, monstrous fish, almost constant rain and more recently, a vibrant music scene that has spawned the likes of Jaloo and Gaby Amarantos. It was also here, in my early twenties, that I experienced one of the more exotic episodes in my travels, waiting out in a decaying nineteenth century brothel for an emergency credit card – my lifeline to the outside world – to arrive. Yet this week it has been in the news for a string of “whats app” murders, preceded by a mysterious text message telling people to stay off the streets..

The residents of outer-suburban Paris were terrorised by a tiger this week, sighted (and photographed, indistinctly, of course) outside a local supermarket. Despite a massive military manhunt the beast has still not been found, although after several days and some track mark analysis, the threat was downgraded to “Eurasian lynx”.

And finally, a sinkhole opened today on a busy pavement in Hong Kong’s own Causeway Bay, swallowing a passing pedestrian, who was later rescued by an ambulance. A friend told me something similar had happened in Beijing once, but there the unfortunate victim had been boiled alive by leaking hot water pipes.

Criolo: new album, new sound

8 11 2014

Criolo’s ambitious last album “Nó na Orelha”  established the underground rapper (and now singer) as a major star in Brazil. He toured London and New York and was acclaimed by Caetano Veloso as the most important voice in the current generation of Brazilian musicians. The album was a revelation, lyrically sharp, sometimes riotous and at other times dark, with a superbly executed blend of conscious thumping hip hop, wistful balladry and Latin music.

Now Criolo is back. Can he top it? His latest, “Convoque seu Buda”, is available for download in full and for free from his website here. The record touches on free jazz and reggae, but its dominant influence is unmistakeably Brazil’s own rich musical heritage from the trippy tropicalia of this song to more straightforward regional beats, and accompanied by cover art influenced by Northeastern Brazilian folk art.

I’ve yet to give it a full listen but it certainly seems interesting.

More on his last album from this blog here.

Henrique Oliveira: into the woods

8 11 2014

Brazilian artist Henrique Oliveira is obsessed by the sensual and organic forms of wood, as seen in his Porto Alegre “Monster House” above and the oversized labyrinthine “roots” of his new show in Sao Paulo, “Transarquitectura”.

Pélico: Você Não Entende Nada

21 10 2014

New Brazilian artist Pélico covers Caetano Veloso.

Praia do Futuro

16 09 2014

Praia do Futuro is a slick, stylishly-filmed gay romance from Brazil which falls curiously flat. On paper it would seem to tick all the boxes, for me at least: gay sex, Brazil, stylish cinematography and an exotic arthouse director, Brazilian-Algerian Cannes juror Karim Ainuz. But in the event, I found the relationship between a moody Brazilian life guard and German motorcyclist oddly uncompelling. We knew so little about either character (dialogue is sparse) that in the end I didn’t really care if they ended up together or not. Shame. Plus, some scenes seemed rather forced – like when the lovers strip off and stand on rocks watching waves breaking while they laugh. Who does that?

The film was on as part of Hong Kong’s Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, on now.

Jaloo’s Downtown

13 09 2014

The Lady Gaga of the Amazon, androgynous synth-shaman Jaloo rocks his Rio Xingu-meets-Downtown-DIY look on new single, Downtown.

Read an interview with him here.

…. and Marli’s black magic

5 09 2014

Tecnobrega, the colourful style of music from Brazil’s Para state mixes Amazonian rhythms with analogue beats and a cheerfully tacky (or is it  sophisticated?) pop sensibility. The genre has been on fire lately, producing a whole new generation of some of Brazil’s most interesting artists. First there was Gaby Amarantes, then Jaloo – and now Marli.

Marli is a former domestic helper and now lo-fi underground electro artist, who according to, writes songs about “love, nature and satanism.” Her sound is all raw, ragged-y vocals over DIY beats. Her look is even better – a brazenly cheap tumlbrrific style popularised by a million teenage bloggers, and yet also uber-hip style bible SuperSuper.

Tacky, or tasteful? The tecnobrega connundrum in a nutshell.

Here is her old band, O Olho do Tarado.


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