Album: Various Artists

Brazilian Beats 3, Mr Bongo
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The Independent Culture

For UK ears battered by the aggressive beats of jungle and garage, there's something warm and inviting about the relaxed, slinky rhythms of Mr Bongo's third compilation of modern Brazilian grooves. Reacting to the airwave dominance of Anglo-American rock, locals have revitalised the old samba-pop tradition to effect a renaissance equivalent to the Tropicalismo movement of the Sixties and Seventies. Figures such as the one-time street-urchin Seu Jorge, represented here by the laid-back "Chega No Suingue", and the former soap star Pedro Martins, of the balanca group Bazeado, are the inheritors of the mantle of such as Jorge Ben and Caetano Veloso, their streetwise lyrics swept along by more contemporary variants on the samba rhythms. In the case of Bazeado's "Maria", the percussion bed is studded with staccato vocables and driven by striding funk bass, swinging along like a chimpanzee on crack. Despite the reliance on similar beats, there's a surprising range in styles. At one extreme, the producer Max De Castro brings a suave, Steely Dan sophistication to the Latin-jazz arrangement of Paula Lima's "E Isso Ai". From a different direction, Jackson Do Pandeiro's "Sebastiana" is an invigorating shuffle of accordion and small guitar, suggestive of a more folksy, rural tradition. The most likely track to find favour with British audiences is Ive Mendes's "A Beira Mar", whose gossamer scat and skimming samba comes book-ended with lapping waves. But the whole album is so suffused with sunshine and smiles, it brings a warm glow to the chilliest outlook.

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