The Rough Guide To Brazilian Electronica: Suba

(Photo by médium)

We're kicking off the new series with something of a legend of the field. Mitar Subotic, aka Suba, died in 1999 trying (or so the legend has it - who are we to argue?) to rescue the tapes of Bebel Gilberto's Tanto Tempo, an album he'd just completed production work on, in a studio fire. He'd just completed his own magnum opus, Sao Paulo Confessions, from which come the songs on the Rough Guide To Brazilian Electronica, our latest exploratory series.

Incongruously enough, Subotic was actually Croatian, from Novi Sad, itself something of a melting pot kind of area, although not especially noted for it's Brazilian population. He moved to Brazil in the early nineties, where he first met João Parahyba, a Brazilian percussionist and kindred spirit. Subotic found an outlet in Brazilian music for his classical training and vast music knowledge, and his enthusiasm for experimentation with rhythms and electronics alike. This excellent article highlights some of his earlier, Yugoslavian work - he was one of the country's best-known acts in the 80's, mixing new wave, electronica and funk under the moniker Rex Ilusivi, and his musical exploits took in experiments in sound installations, minimalist art-electronica, jazz, music philosophy, and scores for theatre, ballet, fashion shows, film and TV. Listening to the work the pair did together, you can really highlight Parahyba's Brazilian roots, but not just that, his interest in pushing the envelope, that matched so well with Suba's.

They used to call Suba the Master of Colours, an interesting title for someone who produces his art entirely sonically. But it's appropriate - take a listen to Sereia, one of the best-known tracks from Sao Paulo Confessions and you'll understand why: the filtered, whirling sound creates an uneasy sensation at first listen; but persevere and it's a sound that will ingrain itself into your subconscious, a propulsive, eclectic piece which draws from bossa nova and samba, certainly, with it's frenetic, driving beat and muted organ, but also from a world of different electronic techniques. It seems Suba's driving purpose in life was not to make music to dance to, so much as to push the boundaries of what is considered listenable - not that this approaches noise in anyway, but it's at times an unsettling experience, not knowing quite what's round the bend.

If you're an electronic music maker, then you'll find much to impress you here, and that article includes glowing testimonials from collaborators such as Parahyba and Cibelle Cavalli (who's gaining a lot of fans herself, with her recent album, The Shine Of Dried Electric Leaves) about the processes and techniques used to create a unique sound.

Like the World Cup articles, I think pretty much all the artists on this album are brand new to me, which should be fun. It's started off well - Amazon is on the case already sending me Sao Paulo Confessions, as I'm really interested in how it turns out. Suba sounds like a fascinating character who approaches electronic music with real passion for music itself, something which can sometimes lack in the scramble to make the most out-there sounds. It's very Brazilian, and very exciting, so I look forward to the rest of the series.

The tracks here are the excellent Sereia and A Felicidade, both from Sao Paulo Confessions, and both featuring the breathy, exotic vocals of Cibelle Cavalli. Also featured is a track from Cibelle's solo debut, The Shine Of Dried Electric Leaves, a beautiful, sultry song with a real summer evening feel.

Suba - Sereia
Suba - A Felicidade
Cibelle - Green Grass

<$>Rough Guide To Brazilian Electronica/Suba/Cibelle/Bebel Gilberto/Joao Parahyba<$>

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Anonymous said...

Novi Sad is in SERBIA!!!!!!!

Oh Simone said...

Doh... I'm going to go and blame Wikipedia for that, although chances are the fault is entirely my own...

FiL said...

Oh Simone, welcome to the Balkans. The city is as strong focal point of Serbian national pride. It was hit hard during the 1999 NATO air campaign. Before that, it became host to many Serb refugees displaced by the wars that wracked the region during the 1990s.

Pop and politics, eh?

Thanks for the Brazil post - eu gosto muito!!


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