(The column will take a recess of a few weeks after this post. Next Brazilian music on Thursdays will be posted on August 18th -- unless I can't help myself and just *have* to post something in the meantime!)
A friend of mine (fellow philosopher of logic Ole Hjortland) is a huge fan of post-punk music (check out his blog for some of his favorites), and for a while he was running a regular series of post-punk pearls on his Twitter stream. I hadn’t given post-punk much thought for years and years (hum, maybe decades?...), but in the mid-1980s I was quite a fan myself (I’m not *that* old, I was just a bit precocious in my music choices). So being re-exposed to post-punk after all these years felt like a ‘time tunnel’ experience, which got me thinking about the Brazilian post-punk scene in the 1980s. As it turns out, it was a very active scene, with bands such as DeFalla, Fellini, Muzak and many others (there’s even a recent compilation of Brazilian post-punk, and lots of songs on youtube, in case anyone is interested).
I mentioned here before that the 1980s was a period in which Brazilian ‘pop music’ distanced itself from typical Brazilian rhythms and genres such as samba, forró etc. Naturally, these genres remained popular in many places and among many groups of the population, but the kool kids of the big cities had no business with any of that 'old stuff'. It was only in the 1990s that Brazilian pop music rediscovered and re-embraced traditional rhythms, which then led to a creative explosion of new sounds. For this reason, I tend to think that Brazilian pop music in the 1980s is generally speaking ‘less interesting’, as it’s just trying to sound as if it wasn’t Brazilian music; but not all of it is uninteresting (at any rate, it is the music of my childhood...), and perhaps there is something distinctive Brazilian about Brazilian post-punk after all.
But rather than focusing on obscure post-punk bands, known only to a handful of aficionados, let me post songs by a band called Legião Urbana. They were arguably the most successful rock band in the 1980s in Brazil, and remained popular even after their dissolution in 1996 with the death of their charismatic singer and composer, Renato Russo (he died of AIDS, and apparently there is a cine-biography about him in the making). To this day, whenever people get together and somebody starts playing guitar for some collective sing-along, you can bet that the chances of Legião Urbana songs making an appearance are quite high. Many of them are overly poppish and pretentionsly ‘poetic’, but at least in the beginning (their first three albums), they were still very much in the spirit of Brazilian post-punk. The two songs I will post here, 'Daniel na cova dos leões' and 'Acrilic on Canvas', are from their second album, Dois (1986), which was ranked 21st in the Rolling Stone ranking of best Brazilian albums of all times. These are two of the 'dark' songs of the album, which also has some light-hearted songs (such as 'Eduardo e Monica', a classic in the sing-along genre, here in a newly made video clip narrating the story of the unexpected couple of the lyrics for a mobile company comercial). But beyond the inevitable youth nostalgia, I actually do think that these two songs are very solid exemplars of Brazilian post-punk, or of post-punk in general, with characteristic drumming style and guitar riffs. Let me know what you think!