Saturday, December 14, 2013

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Progshine Guide To: Brazilian Progressive Rock


By Diego Camargo

Very often people come and ask me about some Prog Rock albums recommendations. Especially because I’m involved with Prog Rock for many year now.

So, I thought it was high time to start these special articles where I will try to build a guide for many different countries with the albums best produced there over the years.

Being a Brazilian guy I thought that it would be better to start with my native country.


History:
The Progressive Rock in Brazil started later than in England or Italy, for example, exactly because the influence came through this countries. Also, the influence they have (as in any other country) is completely different from the European peers. Their music is very often painted with acoustic colors and very often with Brazilian music.
The first Brazilian Prog Rock bands started to record around 1971. The peak of the genre in the country was around 74/75 when several bands released their best records.

Most of the Prog Rock artists from the country, in similarity with the Italian Prog, didn’t achieve big careers. Very often bands released one or two records and disbanded soon after, usually because of disagreements with record companies.
During the 70’s many albums were released. Throughout the 80’s very few albums of good quality can be found. At that time the Brazilian Pop Rock (so called BRock) was in demand and it pretty much killed all the audience for Prog musicians in the country. Similar to what Punk and New Wave did in Europe.
Only in the mid 90’s bands started to bloom again, especially influenced by later Pink Floyd albums and Progressive Metal bands.

Main bands:
Módulo 1000, Os Mutantes, A Barca Do Sol, Ave Sangria, A Bolha, Som Nosso De Cada Dia, Casa Das Máquinas, O Terço, Som Imaginário, Terreno Baldio, Recordando O Vale Das Maçãs, Marco Antonio Araujo, Bacamarte, Violeta De Outono, Trem Do Futuro, Apocalypse, Tempus Fugit, Cálix, Cartoon, Quaterna Réquiem, Poços & Nuvens, Dialeto, Blue Mammoth.

Main albums:
In this guide I’ll try to give you 10 of the best albums of the country ever released! I will include 10 different bands so there will be more diversity in the presented material. In the end some extras will be incorporated.

Módulo 1000 – Não Fale Com Paredes (1970)

Módulo 1000 [Module 1000] was a band formed in 1969 in Rio De Janeiro. This was one of the first Progressive Rock albums released by a Brazilian band. Although the album was still soaked in Psychedelic colors they went far beyond the simple ‘craziness’ of the genre.
The album Não Fale Com Paredes (1970) [Don’t Talk To Walls] was released by Top Tape and it is very often on collectors' lists because it’s a very rare piece.
The record was not well received by fans and media that didn’t understand what the band was doing, it was too much ahead of time for Brazilian market.
The band had a short existence and by 1972 they had changed their name to Love Machine and released a single (this time in English), soon disbanding after that.
In 2013 the band was reformed and they’re preparing a new album to be released next year.

Key track: 'Turpe Est Sine Crine Caput'
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Som Imaginário – Matança Do Porco (1973)
Som Imaginário [Imaginary Sound] was initially created to back up Brazilian famous singer Milton Nascimento in 1970.
After the tour the band went on and started to record their own albums.
The first two albums (from 70 & 71) were directed to a more Psychedelic/Folk sound with Zé Rodrix as the main writter.
It was just in 1973 when the maestro Wagner Tiso started to lead the band that they went full Prog with their masterpiece Matança Do Porco (1973) [Slaughter Of The Pig], released by Odeon.
After this album they were able to record with many famous Brazilian popular artists, but as an authoral band they never released another record.
In 2012 the band has reunited to a series of concerts through Brazil.

Key track: 'Armina'
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Som Nosso De Cada Dia – Snegs (1974)

Very often mentioned as ‘the Brazilian ELP’ (because of the similar formation without guitars), Som Nosso De Cada Dia [Our Every Day Sound] was formed in 1972 in São Paulo.
The band had Manito (keyboards and saxophones), who was a legend in Brazilian Rock having played with the Beatles-like band Os Incríveis [The Incredibles], in its initial lineup.
After 2 years of reclusion and rehearsals the band got a deal with Continental to record their first and celebrated album Snegs (1974).
They played several concerts through Brazil between 74 and 75 including opening concerts for Alice Cooper.
At that time, because of the success of their concerts, their record label wanted the band to be more pop oriented, which would appeal for an even bigger public. Back in 1975 Disco and Black Music was popular and that's what the label wanted. The band fought hard against them, but they were under contract and ended up accepting.
Though the band was working in 75 in a 20 minutes suite called ‘Amazônia’ and many new songs were played on their shows (as the album À Procura Da Essência (2004) shows). Manito left the band after too much discussion with the label.
In 1977 their second album was released, now with a guitar player in the lineup. Som Nosso De Cada Dia (1977) was divided into Sides A (Sábado – Saturday) and B (Domingo – Sunday). The first side was completely devoted to Disco and Funk music which completely swept away their old audience. The second side shows us how good the record would be if developed appropriatedely.
The band has 2 come backs, one in 1993 when Snegs (1974) was released in CD for the first time and in 2004 again (I was lucky enough to see the band live back in 2009).

Key track: 'Sinal Da Paraóia'
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Mutantes – Tudo Foi Feito Pelo Sol (1974)

Os Mutantes [Mutants] (later only Mutantes) was a band that is claimed by many to be one of the most revolutionary band of all times. Their earlier albums (between 68 and 72) are considered all-time best by many Rock fans.
In 1972 relationship between Arnaldo Baptista (keyboards and bass) and Rita Lee (vocals) - married at the time - had come to an end and the band was developing a Prog sound, which made them part ways.
At this time the band recorded O A E O Z (1992) that was not released and shelved by their record label at that time for not being commercial; the album would only be released officialy ten years later.
Because of that the only original member in the band left was Sergio Dias (vocals and guitars), so he gathered a new band and went on to record their most Prog album, Tudo Foi Feito Pelo Sol (1974) [Everything Was Done For The Sun], released by Som Livre.
The band had another album, Ao Vivo (1976), recorded live with unreleased material and disbanded in 1978. There are plenty of bootlegs throughout the web with a lot of unreleased material that had never seen a studio recording.
In 2006 the original band (without Rita Lee) made a triumphant return, but focusing only on the earlier band’s material. They have released 3 albums since then.
Earlier this year the original line up of Tudo Foi Feito Pelo Sol (1974) regrouped and since then have played several concerts throughout Brazil, always sold out.

Key track: 'Tudo Foi Feito Pelo Sol'
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O Terço – Criaturas Da Noite (1975)

O Terço [The Chaplet] was one of the first Brazilian bands to actually play Progressive Rock.
In 1970 their first album was released but it was more of Psychedelic Folk album. However, in 1972 they released their second album, this time fully Prog, including the suite ‘Amanhecer Total’ [Full Dawn].
But it was only with their third album Criaturas Da Noite (1975) [Creatures Of The Night], and changing in their line-up that the band achieved their full sound mixing some Hard Rock, Prog and Brazilian Folk Music.
The band went on releasing several album and it is still active, but the quality of their albums dropped hard on the next releases.

Key track: '1974'
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Terreno Baldio – Terreno Baldio (1975)

Terreno Baldio [Wasteland] was formed in São Paulo in the early 70’s. The band is often mentioned as ‘Brazilian Gentle Giant’ and we can see why on their debut self-titled album from 1975.
This first album is a rare piece for collectors. It was released by a small label called Pirata with only 3 thousand copies ever produced.
During 1975/1976 the band toured thoroughly and in 1976 they signed with the label Continental and when the time for a new record came the record company insisted on the band to release a conceptual album about the Brazilian fairy tale legends. The band was reluctant but ended up accepting the idea and Além Das Lendas Brasileiras (1977) [Beyond Brazilian Legends] was released.
The album didn’t have a good acceptance among fans that couldn't associate with all the ‘Brazilian’ thing on the new album. They ended up disbanding in 1978.
In 1993 the band got together again to re-record their first album but with English lyrics, new arrangements and new tracks. They ended up doing some concerts and disbanding again.
Between 2008 and 2009 the band played several shows again, one of which I was very fortunate to see in São Paulo.

Key track: 'Grite'
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A Barca Do Sol – Durante O Verão (1976)

A Barca Do Sol [The Barge Of The Sun] was a different band amongst their peers. They were focused on the Progressive Folk side and had flutes, cellos and all kinds of Brazilian traditional acoustic instruments such as cavaquinho and berimbau in their equipment.
I have to say that my favorite album by the band was their last Pirata (1979) [Pirate], but, I agree that their most succesful attempt was their second album Durante O Verão (1976) [During The Summer].
In this album all their musicality comes as a beautiful package of great musicianship.
After their third album the band closed activities and many of the musicians such as Jaques Morelenbaum, Nando Carneiro and Ritchie followed a succesful career in the Brazilian Popular Music (MPB).

Key track: 'Belladonna, Lady Of The Rocks'
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Bacamarte – Depois Do Fim (1983)

Bacamarte [Blunderbuss] is a band formed in late 70’s that released its first album in 1983. The astonishing thing about this album is that the expected Neo Prog sound is not here. On the contrary, their sound is still on the 70’s and the recording is full of life. There's an explanation for this, the album was in fact recorded in 78, but because of the massive popularity of Disco music at that time, band’s leader Mario Neto decided to withhold the tapes and forget about the whole thing.
Just in 82 a friend persuaded him to do something with the tape which he did and the album was finally released the next year.
Because the band didn’t exist anymore the project was put aside, at least till 1999 when a second album was released with 80’s recordings, though this album is more like a Mario solo work.
The band was reunited for one concert in September 2012.

Key track: 'Último Entardecer'
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Marco Antonio Araujo – Lucas (1984)

Marco Antonio Araujo was a guy completely different from all the musicians from his time. Playing exclusively acoustic guitars he started his daring recordings in 1980 trying to achieve a perfect mix between Progressive Rock and Folk. Lucas (1984) is his fourth and final record.
Born in Minas Gerais. The musician died at the young age of 36 in 1986 because of an brain aneurism.
Lucas (1984) – name of second son – is his most refined work, the proof can be heard in the suite ‘Lembranças’ [Remembrance].

Key track: 'Lembranças'
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Apocalypse – Aurora Dos Sonhos (1996)

Apocalypse is the oldest Brazilian Prog band that is still active, over 25 years and counting.
Formed in late 80’s in Porto Alegre, the band recorded the first album in 1991 but only four years later, with the album Perto Do Amanhecer (1995) [Near The Dawn], that the band went full Progressive.
However, was Aurora Dos Sonhos (1996) [Dawn Of Dreams] released a year later, that brought their Symphonic Neo Prog to its limits.

The band is still active, they changed their vocalist in 2004 and since then they have released 1 live album and 2 studio ones. They also released a box in 2011 celebrating their 25th anniversary and a DVD this year.

Key track: 'Jamais Retornarei'
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Extras – The 2000’s:

Cálix – Canções De Beurin (2000)

I wanted to focus on only 10 albums, but I couldn’t leave some newest bands aside.
One of the great surprises that the new millennium brought is the excellent Cálix [latin for Chalice] from Minas Gerais.
The band’s first album Canções De Beurin (2000) [Song From Beurin] it’s a perfect mix of Prog and Folk.
The band recorded a new album 2 years later called A Roda (2002) [The Wheel] and a live album in 2007 but unfortunately up till now there’s no sign of a new album. The band is still playing live though.


Key track: 'Dança Com Devas'
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Cartoon – Bigorna (2002)

Cartoon, another band that comes from Minas Gerais, had in its second album Bigorna (2002) [Anvil] their best effort and also a funny one.
Sub named The Real History Of King Arthur & The Knights Of The Round Table, the album tells the King Arthur tale in a different way, in Cartoon’s version Excalibur is a… hammer.
The band recorded a third album called Estribo (2008) [Stirrup] and just have released their fourth album called Unbeatable (2013) though it seems they’re no longer a Progressive Rock band...

Key track: 'King's Song'
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Blue Mammoth – Blue Mammoth (2011)

Blue Mammoth is a band that was born from the ashes of Octohpera. Their self-titled debut album from 2011 is a preview of what the band can do in the future if they continue walking this path and also it shows how well Brazilian Progressive Rock is in the current days. The country doesn`t have thousand of bands, but the ones they have are good ones.

The band is, as you read, finishing their second album, to be released anytime in the beginning of 2014.

Key track: 'The King Of Power'
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Honorable mentions:
- Secos & Molhados - Secos & Molhados (1972)
- Moto Perpétuo – Moto Perpétuo (1974)
- Lula Côrtes E Zé Ramalho – Paêbirú (1975)
- Pholhas – Pholas (1977)
- Dialeto - Chromatic Freedom (2008)
- Violeta De Outono - Espectro (2012)

That's it for now, please leave your comment and let me know of which country Progshine should do a guide next time!


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