December 2006 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Michael McLennan
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster: Len Mullenger

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Moro no Brasil (I live in Brasil)  
Music composed by Various Artists
Performed by Various Brazilian instrumental and vocal ensembles along with various Brazilian artists and soloists
  Available on Milan Records (M2-36171)
Running Time: 60:33
Amazon UK   Amazon US

Moro No Brasil contains no original score at all and is a compilation of songs; and not in the conventional way of the various pop-rock entries contained in most of the modern soundtrack releases. What we have here is a vivid collection of Brazilian music and songs of strong ethnic essence.

So, if you’re still with me and do want to know more on this release, feel free to read on: Moro no Brasil is a pure and honest celebration of music and culture. Brazil is one of the richest countries as far as musical tradition is concerned, with a respectful and at the same time representative portion of this musical brilliance gathered in very this album. It has been evident through the centuries that music is as vital to the life of Brazilian people as water, food and oxygen are; and it’s rather true. Their music serves as their personal every-day ritual, a feast, a sacred way of survival and an expression of their inner soul, all portrayed here in the sparkling musical gathering that is the soundtrack album for Mika Kaurismäki’s Moro no Brasil. Focusing on the music of Brazil, Mika’s creation is a powerful and passionate documentary that provides the viewer with unprecedented access to the diversity and musical richness of Brazilian music, a journey that reaches far beyond the already well-known territories of Samba and Bossa Nova. Mika’s musical journey takes us through Brazil, with particular interest in Pernambuco, Bahia and Rio de Janeiro, presenting the voyage from the roots of samba to its modern extensions and up to rap and funk. Brazilian culture with its roots and people are the centre-point of the project while we go through over 50 musical performances straight from the streets of Brazil, including interviews and performances by Walter Alfaiate & Seu Jorge, Antônio Nôbrega, Darue Malungo, Silverio Pessoa, Margareth Menezes and Ivo Meirelles among others.

The release comes from Milan Records and along with some interesting text on the film by Mika Kaurismaki several photos can be found in the booklet as well. Also, most of the one hour album is recorded live, right in the streets of Brazil from common people who bear a strong sense of love and commitment to their musical roots as they study, perform and carry it through the years. The live recording does attribute a more genuine and organic feeling to the whole and the sound quality is surprisingly good considering the difficulties involved. The downside of the live recording is that most of the album is made up of continuous songs, so you don’t really know when the track is changing. This is not a problem for those accustomed to this kind of music and especially live recordings, but for anyone who isn’t, it can become tiresome.

Moro no Brasil is an album of a highly enjoyable nature, the mood constantly uplifting. This collection of Brazilian music is fully characterized by the rich cultural legacy of Brazil, a sound defined by its passionate performances and an overall vibrant feeling. Driven mostly by percussion (of all kinds), the rhythms are strident and upbeat. The combination of the catchy style of percussion with native instruments, solo vocalist and a small vocal ensemble of mixed voices is infectious enough to make you want to dance and jump around! A highlight is ‘Alegria de Cidade’ with its intense drums and percussion accompanying a male singer and vocals with sax and electric guitar into a lively and upbeat fanfare. There’s also the wild ‘Ritmos do Baguncaco’ (based solely on rousing percussion motifs), and the festive ‘Exaltacao para Mangueira’ as well as bits from the various performances of artists as diverse as Fulni-O Indians, Jacinto Silva, Walter Alfaiate, Seu Jorge, Ivo Meirelles, and Funk ‘N Lata.

For some the language barrier will be a problem – Spanish and Portuguese are frequently the languages of song here. It didn’t limit my own enjoyment of the songs because, to put it simply, the wild horns and intense percussion with their rousing rhythms along with sneaky and lively vocals are compelling enough even without the full understanding of the lyrics.

The soundtrack to Moro No Brasil is surely not the most suitable listen for the casual score lover, but it is a perfect chance for those who appreciate and study world music, to widen their scope on the area of Brazilian music. So, if you want to take a break from your usual orchestral scores, and if you’re looking for something with a unique cultural sound and background - but also of amazing value - this soundtrack is a perfectly good choice for you to check out. Since we’re talking about admittedly difficult territories for the average listener, I strongly recommend seeing the documentary first in order to get a better view of how the music is and why is it so significant, before deciding to invest. Even if you do decide to get this, you’ll find that you really have to be in the right mood to listen to it, but don’t let that put you off a compilation of rare value.

Demetris Christodoulides

Rating: 3

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