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Old 01-08-2010, 03:07 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Poesia Pois é Poesia; The Work of Lula Côrtes

Poesia Pois é Poesia;
The Work of Lula Côrtes

Satwa by Lula Côrtes (1973)
No Sub Reino Dos Metazoarios by Marconi Notaro (1973)
Paebiru by Lula Côrtes & Ze Ramalho (1975)
Flaviola e o Bando Do Sol by Flaviola e o Bando do Sol (1976)
Rosa De Sangue by Lula Côrtes (1980)

Lula Côrtes is a myth, a treetop luminary and a sun-drenched savant lurking in the darkness of Recife, Brazil. His time is one of political turmoil and fierce brutality, both symptoms of the faceless military dictatorship he and his contemporaries suffered through during their formative years. Their stories are not all tragedies; Ze de la Flauta is a wildly successful producer in Brazil to this day, Ze Ramalho went on to become a prolific recording artist, and even Lula is still puttering about his tropical locale. But this era left such a profound effect on the young men and women of Recife that they desperately sought escape through adopted Peter Pan-esque personas (Lula Côrtes means "Gracious Squid" when translated, Ze de la Flauta means "Joseph of the Flute"), and in defiance they created the most diverse avant-garde movement Brazil had ever seen. Each dabbled in art, photography, poetry, literature, and, most importantly, music. Throughout the 1970s the Recife community blended traditional folklore with psychedelica and proto-Beatle Mania in their quest of self expression and individuality under the oppression they faced from the traditionalist government. In retrospect we see that Lula was the de facto ruler of "Abracadabra", the rambling band of artists, writers, musicians, would-be philosophers, and poets he associated with. His efforts allowed his friends to record on his DIY Solar label, which gave the world the notoriously short-lived and rare "Flaviola e o Bando do Sol" S/T as well as Marconi Notaro's "No Sub Reino Dos Metazoarios". Côrtes was an enigmatic figure, one who recorded three of the least heard, most-sought-after, and most mind-blowing albums of the 1970s. And because Côrtes and his friends deserve better than their lot in life gave them, I endeavor to do my best to decipher these recordings and relate them to my esteemed fellow members, in the hopes that Abracadabra’s legacy will live on through all of you.
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Old 01-08-2010, 03:16 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Satwa by Lula Côrtes (1973)

Track listing:
Can I Be Satwa?
Alegro Piradissimo
Lia da Rainha da Noite
Blue do Cachorro Muito Louco
Valsa dos Cogumelos
Alegria do Povo

Recorded in 11 days in January, 1973, Satwa is the name given to the psych-folk collaboration between Lula Côrtes and Lailson, a young guitarist from Pernambuco. Lula had just returned from Morocco, a trip that would instill him with a love for Indian raga and Middle Eastern tonality, and had just met Lailson through mutual friends. The two bonded quickly, primarily due to their mutual love of probing their minds for truth through sonic explorations, and agreed to record an album together. What resulted was Satwa, a deft rebellion against Brazil’s military state relayed entirely through Lula’s sitar and Lailson’s 12 string guitar. The album holds historical significance as well; it is commonly cited as the first independent record ever released in Brazil. Listening to Satwa transports you to several different places in time, from the stately Spanish villas of the Inquisition, to the dusty roads of Lula’s native Paraiba, to a sand swept Arabian town at midnight. Satwa is essentially a jam session between the two artists; one that boasts the intricate fretwork of Robertinho and is best listened to beside a campfire or by moonlight.

Sadly, much of this album will bore most people. The guitar work is fascinating and elegant, while conversely gritty and soulful, but at times can be a bit tedious for those who prefer a bit more excitement in their music. However, the beauty of certain tracks cannot be denied, and the one I am most enchanted by is Apacidonata. It evokes such vivid imagery in my mind; I see a moonlit cave, with a solitary figure gazing at the stars through the trees and wondering what his place is in the world. Somber and powerful, the track draws you in, wraps you up in desperate passion and grants vision into the souls of the oppressed better than any rah-rah-rah punk or hardcore protest song ever could. Following Apacidonata is the jangly Amigo, another song that I really enjoy. There is a sort of western swing-type feeling to the song, and is reminiscent of the folk songs I heard as a young man in rural Mexico. Amigo flows so well, which I believe is a result of the wonderful harmony achieved by Lula and Lailson. Blending in perfectly with the previous track, Atom is more of the same jangly acoustics that reveal a quiet intensity evident throughout Satwa.

Blue do Cachorro Muito Louco is one of my favorite Lula tracks of all time, and on this album it features the ravaging riffage of Robertinho over the blues licks laid down by Lailson. Alliteration aside, I cannot get enough of the electric guitar here, especially when it’s coupled with Lula’s smoke-infested vocalizing. It’s like these two channeled some Muddy Waters or Howlin’ Wolf and ran with it, and I love it. In fact, the title translates to “Blues of the Very Wild Dog”, so there you go. Valsa do Cogumelos is a waltz that incorporates various forms of Brazilian folk genres, and is achingly nostalgic of the Portuguese classics of the past. The only slight against this song is that it’s basically a longer, more elaborate version of Alegro Piradissimo, albeit one with more of an Indian vibe going on.

Probably the craziest track on Satwa is Can I Be Satwa?, the reason being that this particular song showcases Lula’s eccentricities more than any other. It’s oddly funky, while still a bit grating to the ear due to the utilization of the sitar’s more traditional ballads. Regardless, Can I Be Satwa? is a wonderful little tune that might take a while to adjust to, but is definitely worth the effort when you get it.

Satwa is easily the most accessible album of Lula's discography, but it's importance lies in the foundation it sets for later recordings. From ragas to funk, soul and psychedlica, Satwa is vintage Lula and allows a gentle easing into the mind of Brazil's most overlooked virtuoso. The tiny towns of Pernambuco and Paraiba were the first to be blessed with Lula's music, but luckily they were not the last.
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Old 01-09-2010, 01:23 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Just checked out the Satwa album, and it's a pretty solid work. Really enjoyed this Anticipation, thanks for the great write-up.
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Old 01-12-2010, 08:02 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I'd be lying if I said I'd heard of this guy before, but given that he's moved you to kick off a discography thread about him, that's probably something I see about changing. Cracking write-up, and I love the sound of the thing as well (the sitar and 12-string are a couple of my favourite instruments), so I'll give Satwa a go as soon as I can.

Keep up the good work eh. Looking forward to the next instalment.
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Old 01-13-2010, 06:27 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Downloading this now. You were extremely convincing.

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Old 01-13-2010, 06:38 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Rosa De Sangue is the only one I've listened to (thanks anticipation!), which I really loved and reviewed in the Weekly Music Trading Post thread... now tempted to check out Satwa, your write-up of it is amazing. Nice work.
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Old 01-13-2010, 09:47 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks for your support guys, I should have part 2 up by tomorrow. Lateralus, I'm totally glad that you liked Rosa de Sangue because it's one of my favorite albums of this scene, second only to Flaviola's masterpiece.

Stay tuned, because this is just the beginning of Lula. Hopefully my subsequent reviews can have some videos in them, the only problem is finding the tracks on youtube.
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Old 01-15-2010, 06:57 PM   #8 (permalink)
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No Sub Reino dos Metazoarios by Marconi Notaro (1973)

Track listing:
Ah Vida Avida
Made in PB
Antropologica No. 1
Antropologica No. 2
Sinfonia em Re
Nao Tenho Imaginacao Pra Mudar de Mulher
Ode a Satwa

After Lula recorded Satwa with Lailson he headed back to the Rosemblit studio in Recife with another member of Abracadabra, Marconi Notaro. Marconi Notaro was a poet who lived in obscurity his entire life; his poetry is so rare that few people in his hometown of Recife even knew he was a writer. However, aside from self-publishing 7 full books of his verse, Notaro’s only other contribution to the movement was his one and only album, recorded with the help of Lula, Zé Ramalho, and several other studio musicians that helped with Satwa. Notaro exposed himself as a more-than-capable songwriter and singer, and with the development and acquisitions of more technologically-advanced equipment he was able to craft a damn good album. No Sub Reino dos Metazoarios is an important album for Lula & Company, as it marks the recording debut of future Brazilian phenom Zé Ramalho (who Lula would later record the mind-blowing Paebiru with), and it also contains some of the first traces of Lula’s exploration with echo, reverb, and a slew of other electronic effects. Musically, No Sub Reino do Metazoarios stands between the raga-trance of Satwa and the psychotic improvisations of the Comus-like mindfuck Paebiru. Still evident are Lula’s obsession with Indian influences and the presence of early American psychedelica, but this album also incorporates fuzz-drenched funk, pure African tribal drumming, and British Invasion-esque tonality. What results is a musical journey through the underbelly of Recife’s then-burgeoning art community.

The opening track to No Sub Reino dos Metazoarios is Desmantelado, a bossa nova piece rife with upbeat acoustic guitar and the first known recording of Lula’s tricordio. A catchy little ditty that doesn’t stray far from what was popular during Abracadabra’s time, which may be why it’s one of the more tame tracks on the album. As we move on to track two, we are immediately hit with a dose of Lula’s trademark lysergic sound. Ah Vida Avida, which translates to “Oh Eager Life”, is chock full of weirdo moaning, Satwa-like raga trance, and intricate melodies from both acoustic guitar and tricordio. Next is Felicidade, which wouldn’t sound out of place on the Haight-Ashbury scene. It sounds like very very early American psychedelica, and utilizes some groovy percussion and frenetic strumming to create a great tune. I really dig this kind of stuff, so I can appreciate the throwback to the 60s stuff in favor of making the album a little more bearable for those without a more eccentric musical palate.

While Lula albums are not known for filler, the 49 second Maracatu is just that: a percussion-only track meant to serve as a segway into the scorching Made in PB. Tailor made for an acid trip, Made in PB features Robertinho’s devastating performance on the electric guitar coupled with some soulful singing by Notaro. This is one of the standouts of the entire album, and warrants an infinite amount of repeated listens. Next up are the twin songs Antropologica No. 1 & Antropologica No. 2. These two are strange tunes, but they have a great sound and really showcase Notaro’s songwriting capabilities. By exposing himself through Antropologica No. 1, and later Nao Tenho Imaginacao Pra Mudar de Mulher, Notaro makes me want to learn Portuguese just to see what the hell he’s talking about. His vocal style is very bluesy, yet authoritative at the same time. A near-universal characteristic of Abracadabra is the lack of timidity, and these two tracks certainly exude confidence and joy.

The latter half of No Sub Reino dos Metazoarios contains some of the best tracks Lula ever recorded, specifically the 6 minute Sinfonia em Re. It’s reminiscent of American folk in a way that brings out all the best qualities folk has. To me, it’s the quintessential track to define this little movement; it’s rollicking and free, while still coming across as just a simple improvisation between friends and colleagues. My favorite song has to be Nao Tenho Imaginacao Pra Mudar de Mulher, if only for the fact that Notaro’s poetry is so beautifully read. The amount of emotion seeping through the background music and vocals really hit home for me, even if I can’t explain why. I’m sure I’m not the only one with a deep affinity for this song, and I’m hoping some of you dig it like I do.

In my eyes, what makes this album a keeper are all the little styles that Robertinho managed to capture so well through Notaro’s music. You’ve got distorted folk-sludge, poppy American psychedelica, odd sounds and lullaby notation, and bossa nova tropicalismo all bumping elbows on the same album. Believe me when I say that this is where Lula begins to really hit his stride, both as a musician and as a performer. These collaborations are as fascinating as they are sonically gorgeous.

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Old 03-27-2013, 01:31 PM   #9 (permalink)
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How do you know so much about Lula Cortes and 1970's Recife scene? I am from Recife and my parents were both artists and friends with Lula Cortes. I later met Lula when I was in college. Me and his son in this picture, we played together as a child, we were both born in 1976. Well, thank you for enlightening me with some teachings about my own culture, background and showing our history to the world. I know Pernambuco was and will always be the center of musical culture in Brazil... I'm proud to be from Recife!
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Old 03-27-2013, 01:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by dende View Post
How do you know so much about Lula Cortes and 1970's Recife scene? I am from Recife and my parents were both artists and friends with Lula Cortes. I later met Lula when I was in college. Me and his son in this picture, we played together as a child, we were both born in 1976. Well, thank you for enlightening me with some teachings about my own culture, background and showing our history to the world. I know Pernambuco was and will always be the center of musical culture in Brazil... I'm proud to be from Recife!
I've never even heard of Lula Côrtes but my mother grew in Recife so... hooray Recife!
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