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Published: 2007/01/21
by Katie Mavrich

What’s Happening in Pernambuco – various artists

Luaka Bop

The music on New York record label Luaka Bop’s latest compilation, What’s Happening in Pernambuco, all hails from that northeast Brazilian region, but it’s completely diverse. From reggae to electronica and punk influences that range from the Pixies to the Ramones, each track on the album is a surprise, and leaves one wondering what’s next.

Otto’s award-winning tune “Bob” is a mix of electronica with techno-like beats, completely innovative and addicting. The slamming percussion beats conjure up images of Prodigy’s “Firestarter,” and it’s a dance club tune for sure something that’s as likely to be heard in a chic New York club as it is in Pernambuco’s capitol city of Recife, which is bursting at the seams with a youth culture way into modern art and music.

Mombojo is probably the youngest band featured most members aren’t even 20 years old. Sublime-like reverb is heard as “Cabidela” begins, and the 90s punk outfit’s influence breaks the monotony of the slow jazzy tune again towards the end. Junio Barreto’s “Amigos Bons,” is a song about extreme poverty, and he croons desperately at times.

Other artists making appearances on What’s Happening in Pernambuco are the poetic Vates E Viola Violas; the funk, samba, and soul-inspired Wado; psychedelic-tinged Mundo Livre; and Cabruera, whose experimental ways have led to the invention of the “ballpoint guitar.”

The only problem with Pernambuco is the foreign lyrics. I personally couldn’t understand or translate them, to an alarming degree: I was about to call “Amigos Bons” a sexy song, because of its melodies and rhythms. Had I not thoroughly read the little handy guide that Luaka Bop sent along with the CD, I would have made a huge faux pas. The upside is that the beats completely carry the lyrics, and it’s ok that the only foreign language I know is Latin the disc still rocks.

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