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Old 06-21-2009, 03:16 AM   #102 (permalink)
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Sauna: Um, Dois, Tres - São Paulo Underground (2006)

GENRES – Jazz, Electronic, Experimental

Sauna: Um, Dios, Três – 5:59
Pombaral – 9:30
Realm of the Ripper – 4:19
Olhosss... – 7:59
Afrihouse – 7:07
Black Liquor – 2:50
Balão de Gás – 6:59
Numa Grana – 5:00

More jazzy goodness, the São Paulo Underground debut album is a heavy mix of jazz and electronics, full of electric grooves and beats. The project was started by Rob Muzarek, whom I have introduced to the site prior with the monthly competitions (He headed Chicago Underground). However, this time around he finds himself influenced but the Brazillian scene (Obvious by the title) with a hint of post rock vibes every now and then. However, it is still primarily an electronics and jazz albums. It doesn’t hold a nu jazz vibe or continuity IMO, which is why I hesitate to label it as such.

The album begins with the title track, introducing the listener auspiciously to the electronic aspects that will litter the rest of the album. Glitched out beats that almost sound melodic, as well as general conversation tid bits layer the beginning, before other instruments slowly enter the track, beginning with a deep and laden guitar line, followed by a cornet, sax, drums and other such percussion. These instruments don’t really follow any lead, rather just doing their own thing. It’s fairly typical free jazz, with the electronics taking a backseat for now until it is used to draw everything together. The electronics later in the track actually improve the track in my opinion, as the free jazz gets a bit boring. By the end the electronics is the overarching instrument as it exudes a fairly simple yet distinct beat. The other instruments are phased out until this beat is the only thing remaining.

Pombaral is sued to showcase the talents of the respective musicians in its first half. Beginning with a trumpet solo before the drums and bass kick in. The best way to describe the track is ‘busy’, probably representative of the city in the title. It captures an almost afrobeat sound, with a tinge of latinesque vibes. Although the result is nothing spectacular, there are some awesome sounds and variations here and there, especially the reverberating distortion on the instruments every now and then. In the middle of the track the electronics come into play, an ethereal ‘gloss’ which shares the space with the drums and some beats. The brass is haunting, almost sounding like it is being played through a thick glass wall. The dubbed wall of sound has some pretty interesting aspects, and I love the way everything is held together in those minutes. After these minutes the upbeat and content sound is replaced by a morose and dark electronics burdened section. The beats just get louder before the main dirt is removed, and only feedback remains, which reintroduces the instrumentation to the track.

Realm Of The Ripper has yet another interesting beginning, a random assortment of electronically made sounds and an electric organ creating a mischievous and wicked vibe. It’s a pretty cool start to the track in my opinion. Various percussion is brought in to create some more depth, and the variation just adds to the interest. It’s probably the most experimental sort of this so far, without really feeling my jazz, but that doesn’t mean its bad. I quite like it, but it’s not for everyone, and this continues for 4 minutes.

Olhosss recaptures the heavy ethereal theme that was in Pombaral, however its intensity is increased, as well as the vibe now being positive in nature. Primarily drum/electronic driven, the post rock background of Takara and Mazurek shines through. This shatters slightly with the introduction of more glitchy beats and tripped out a tripped out brass section. It’s a great change, and sometimes you have to question whether it really is a cornet being played, however it does carry on for a bit though.

Afrihouse is a top notch track, controlled by deep bassy drumming and various other percussion, ranging from latin to afrobeat sounds. Mazurek lets the beats progress at nice intervals without forcing anything to take off. The end of the track is definitely a weird one though… The volume is slowly lowered to leave a psychedelic fog of noise before the drums are hit hard in a out of place attack of noise. Still, a nice track overall. Black Liquor is more out of place music, with a downtrodden trip hop beat leading the way, which doesn’t fit in the album at all really. It isn’t bad perse; it’s just out of the blue. However, it only goes for 2:50, so it’s not like it’s a long and grinding song. Some of the sounds and beats created therein are quite interesting though, as we tread through what reminds me of a dark carnival.

Balao De Gas carries over the base from the previous track before moving onto its own, a higher tempo beat with more Brazilian influences obvious. The drumming in particular is a nice change, using traditional Brazilian jazz percussion and constructs. It’s all a bit same same throughout the song though, and I didn’t really love it, but it has its moments. The album ends with Numa Grana, 5 minutes of muffled talking with feedback throughout.

Sao Paulo Underground is a nice variation for Maruzek from his Chicago Underground, and I love the comparisons one can attempt to draw with essentially the same base but different influences. It uses afrobeat/latin/Brazilian sounds well, and although the electronics could be used a bit better, it doesn’t mean that they are a detriment to the album. However, there are some moments where it just doesn’t entertain.


– Sauna: Um, Dois, Tres
- Afrihouse
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