Monday, November 19, 2007


In the 1980s, while urban centers of the Brazilian south like São Paulo, Brasília and Rio were inundated with homegrown rock movements, Pernambuco didn’t have much of a music scene at all. It was a colonial relic plagued with inequality and poverty and with the infamous distinction of its capital, Recife, being named “fourth worst city in the world to live in” by a population studies institute in Washington, D.C. Its economy resembled the brackish, stagnant water all around it that was slowly being converted to dumping grounds and stilted shantytowns.

The response to this ecological, cultural and industrial degradation??

The MANGUE MANIFESTO, written by Recife journalist and musician Fred Zero-Four: Emergency! A rapid shock or Recife dies of heart attack! It is not necessary to be a doctor to know that the simplest way to stop a heart is to obstruct it veins. The quickest way to kill and empty the soul of a city is to kill its rivers and fill its estuaries. How to avoid drowning in the chronic depression that paralyses the citizens? How to return some courage and recharge the batteries of the city? It's simple! It's just to inject some energy in the mud and stimulate what's left of fertility in the veins of Recife.

Vowing to jump-start the local scene Fred Zero Four got together with Chico Science and a collective of local bands and visual artists to found the Mangue Beat movement - the most significant musical and aesthetic movement in Brazil since Tropicalia. Their philosophy? To tap into the extreme diversity spawned along the coastal swamp. To use the mangue swamp as a space for excavating traditional sounds and for receiving satellite transmissions from across the world. To celebrate hybridity and make a defining mark on what the 2000's are all about. Their music? An explosion of punk-rock-funk-rap-electronic sound, infused with the maracatu, coco, ciranda and embolada rhythmic traditions of the rural northeast. The marketing? A revolutionary effort by local culture guru Paulo Andre Pires, curator of this compilation.

The impact of Mangue Beat transformed Recife from marginal back-water to Brazilian music’s capital of innovation. What you hold in your hands are the beautiful step-children of that movement. Chico Science’s Nacao Zumbi and Mundo Livre served as the Velvet Underground from which 1,000 other bands sprung.

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