** 2021 Stock ** Far to the north-east of Brazil’s twin musical capitals of Rio and São Paulo, lies the city of Recife, in the state of Pernambuco. During the country’s lengthy and oppressive military dictatorship (1964-1985), a cadre of like-minded and socially conscientious musicians were quietly building their own music scene, away from the glare of the censors.... for a time, at least.
Strongly influenced by the psychedelic music coming out of America and Britain (and further inspired by visits to India and Morocco), local musicians such as Zé Ramalho, Lula Côrtes & Alceu Valença were to be the vanguard of their own, wild, hedonistic Psyche-scene. There would be sitars and lutes merging with traditional Pernambucan percussion; constant collaborations and ethereal art-collectives; experiments with ‘found-sound’ colliding with earthy flutes and driving backlines – all helped along by men wearing lipstick, acid, mushrooms, marijuana, suggestive dancing and plenty of onstage kissing. The songs and artists featured on this album are a fittingly schizophrenic selection. Psychedelic Pernambuco finds crazed ethno-punk giving way to tweaked Americana; mystical jungle-folk stands alongside cocaine-fuelled fuzz-rock, and acid-raga trance segues into mutated proto-disco.
The party couldn’t last forever. The military were a constant nuisance and a growing threat to these underground experimentalists. In one famous incident Lula Côrtes & Zé Ramalho were forced to leave Recife and flee to the woods to record their cult-classic album, Paebiru – named after the mystical Paebiru Stone which is alleged to have alien hieroglyphs carved into its sides. In the end, compounding factors like the ascent of modern-rock and the severe restrictions on their output by the military (whole pressings of albums were frequently seized and destroyed), led many of the vanguard of the Pernambucan scene to slowly dissipate and eventually blow away with the wind, like so much marijuana smoke. The final hurrah would come from Lula Côrtes, who, wishing to “close all this with a golden key”, went into a small studio in 1980 to record ‘Rosa de Sangue’ – it was duly destroyed upon its completion. Nobody knows if any copies survived.