That Alexandre Manuel Thiago de Mello (aka Manduka), born in Petrópolis, a city in the south-east Brazil, isn’t a bigger name in the annals of Brazilian music is surely largely down to the unforgiving vagaries of politics rather than talent. This debut album, originally released in 1972, is up there with anything recorded contemporaneously by the big name post-tropicalistas. In figuring out its relative obscurity you have to factor in the unusual and febrile context in which it was composed, amid Salvador Allende’s pre-coup Chile, where, ironically, Manduka’s family had earlier fled Brazil’s military regime, and where the nueva canción movement marinated in radical ideology.
Released initially in 1972 on Quilpayún founder Julio Numhauser’s IRT label, the album featured many of the Chilean scene’s movers and shakers including Numhauser himself, Los Jaivas’ Parra brothers and, most obviously, Venezuelan singer Soledad Bravo, who had previously triumphed at a Peruvian song festival with Manduka’s song ‘Patria Amada, Idolatrada, Salve Salve’. Her input is critical to the astonishing ‘Entra y Sale’, an object lesson in scat harmony and ecstasy-as-attitude as only Latin Americans can dream it, exhilarating and relentless in its impassioned, stunningly braided harmonies. A breathless dynamic spins and spirals from troposphere to stratosphere over a barrelling acoustic rhythm guitar so fierce it could have been played by Love’s Arthur Lee, seamlessly moving from rapture to gritted-teeth to hysterical vocalese on-the-hoof as naturally as breathing. ‘Naranjita’ is goosebump-pretty, every finger picked note exuding analogue warmth, while the mounting percussive tension of the ten-minute opening epic ‘Brasil 1500’ broods magnificently on Brazilian birth pains. A work of unsung genius." - Brendon Griffin