sudoeste

Além do mar

Music, Travel

Last days of summer in Europe simply ask for transmitting some uplifting and boogie beats. Fortunately, there are places on Earth, where summer is a state of mind, not just a season. As mentioned before this is the case in the North-Eastern Brazil, be it August or February. European places cannot a comparison to its tropical climate, but I remember some 50 degrees differences between my hometown in Poland and in the South of Portugal where I used to live during a couple of months (-25 vs. 25 Celsius degrees).

Algarve, as we speak, is the most popular region in Portugal among tourists and surfers, but apart from some horrendous towns famous for being actually nothing more than ‘Nordic colonies’ it is indeed a region famous for some best beaches in Europe. From my experience, I would definitely recommend one-of-its-kind islands nearby the rivalry towns Faro and Olhão (like the Ilha Deserta or Ilha do Farol) for those who love endless sand-scapes. On the other hand, beaches located nearby Sagres or Aljezur are amazingly rocky and the waves are the best for those who love to surf more than anything else. The windward site is still considered to be less affected by the massive tourism, and if you have enough time, visiting sites in the Sud Oeste Alentejano National Park is a brilliant idea. However, for bird-watching aficionados, like my friend Krzysztof (for Polish speakers I recommend his hillarious blog about ‘the ones that fly’ http://volucrescoeli.wordpress.com) the leeward coast would be a delight, due to various deltas and natural reservoirs of Ria Formosa National Park for flamingos and storks, to name very basic few. More about Algarve to come, yet to illustrate its sunny, sandy and summery wonders I chose one of my fave remixes of DJ Marky, about what’s beyond the sea.

Wiki:

Além do mar – beyond the sea (taken from the Djavan’s – Nereci, one of the Brazilian classic’s lyrics)

Ilha Deserta – Deserted Island

Ilha do Farol – Lighthouse Island

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Alegria, alegria!

Music, Travel

Coming back from short holidays, I am quite puzzled if I really had to return to my usual urban life. Well, life is life – as one particularly insightful song told us in the 80s.

Thinking of some best moments of my life, I am normally reminiscing special people or places and this being especially helpful upon arrival to somewhat regular and down-to-earth reality. Undoubtedly, one of the moments of perfection I lived was in the North-Eastern tip of Brazil, on the outskirts of the city Natal, the capital of the Rio Grande do Norte region. Famous for its enormous dunes and never-ending, unspoiled beaches. Despite from becoming increasingly touristic destination, it has preserved most of its natural highlights.

I was lucky enough to rent an apartment on the Ponta Negra beach just at the tip of the Morro do Careca, the emblematic dune of the city. It used to be a lively spot for the locals in the past where they used hang out to sandsurf, but due to the risk of destroying the dune, the access has been lately cut off and the neighbourhood become surprisingly quiet.

These days, overlooking the sun or the moon in the Old Town port from my Barcelona loft, I often remember the magic nights of bathing in the Ocean, spotted by the moonlight, and burning torches from local beach bars where fresh caipirinha was completing the state of alegria. There are countless songs about this state of mind, but no one described it better than Gal Costa, in Pontos de Luz. Sun, the moon, the sky…

alegria – happiness

caipirinha – a popular Brazilian-origin cocktail, made of cachaça (sugar cane hard liquor), sugar and lime

pontos de luz – points of light

Sexta – feira da simpaticona!

Music, Personal

Sexta-feira, or ‘Sex’ as an abbreviation, means the 6th day of the week, Friday it is in Portuguese. I remember the confusion this word caused to my visitors when I was living in Portugal and they saw the ‘S’ word popping all of a sudden in the newspapers or TV weather programmes… This original name means that it is the sixth (sexta) day of a trade (feira), after the Jewish Sabbath (sabado). Actually from Monday till Friday the names of the week are referred in numbers, starting from Segunda-feira. To shorten this long description, on a daily basis you can rather hear/see in a spoken/written Portuguese: 2a – Monday, 3a – Tuesday, 4a – Wednesday, 5a – Thursday and 6a – Friday).

Anyway, hoje é sexta-feira de manhã, and I am preparing my short getaway to Ibiza to meet my lovely friends there. Looking forward not only to some entertainment, but also to reconnecting with nature and spending time at glorious beaches in the less-touristic parts of the island. This is why I keep listening this Jobim’s my all-time jazzy/bossanova/psychedelic fave about the beauty of Brazilian sertão, endangered nature and indigenous people.

However, as it is Friday in August 2014, I just cannot post this year’s revelation to Brazilian dancefloors, a funny track describing extremely nice type of a person at the party, aka simpaticona da boate. Basically, whatever you ask, simpaticona will give you!

Find below the original version (might be ‘too much’ imo) and intriguing DJ Marky’s remix.

Happy weekend (fds – fim de semana) is about to commence!

Wiki:

Sexta – feira (abbreviation ‘Sex’) – Friday

Hoje é sexta-feira de manhã – today is the Friday morning (lyrics taken from Jobim’s ‘Borzeguim’)

Sertão – rural inland area of Brazil

Simpaticona – (extremely) nice person

Boate – (Brazilian) party

Desfado

Music, Personal

‘I already knew you were a big fan of Portugal and Brazil but I never thought it was mostly language- and sound-related. It’s really nice to hear that Portuguese as this kind of power. I guess that fado it’s not your type of music but it seems unusual to talk about saudade without mentioning it’.

Well, hearing this kind of feedback I just cannot remain unresponsive! The author of the feedback is Joana with whom I had a pleasure to collaborate at my previous workplace last year in Barcelona. Even though it was always quite stressful and very fast-pace back there, we managed to create a very inspirational (and still, productive!) ambience on our ‘Fox Island team’ (don’t ask for a meaning) within the open space ocean. So, speaking a weird mixture of Spanish – English – French – Catalan – Polish – Lithuanian (!) and Russian we could not obviously miss Portuguese. And despite the fact that we are all in very different places now, I guess (?) we all feel this special kind of saudade when we remind those crazy times.

So, it is true, I have not started off with fado, as it is not really my cup of tea. However, it is something a Portugal-loving person cannot just leave behind. Promise there will appear some classic content (for which my Portuguese-aficionado Maezinha is longing, too!), sometime soonish.

For now I would love to present my fave out of Joana’s selection: Ana Moura’s Desfado which represents a powerful trend in fado music nowadays: remaking, experimenting with the form, musical styles and language. Desfado reminds me also of our multilingual team we used to be, desfalando all the afore-mentioned languages and simply, having fun!

Wiki:

Fado – a form of music characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life in the neighbourhood, and infused with a characteristic sentiment of resignation, fatefulness and melancholia (loosely captured by the keyword saudade – longing). Desfado is a neologism meaning the opposite of it.

Falar – to speak (desfalando is the opposite gerund of it)

Maezinha – (diminuitive) mom

After the carnaval: Brazilectro

Music

I know that this post will make my special Barceloneta neighbour happy, so let’s dedicate it to her, when she is breaking free, http://notatherdesk.com! Weronika is a great supporter and has given me quite insightful feedback on how could Lusofonetica evolve. Anytime Weronika comes to my place she is like, “Can we listen to this Brazilian sound?” and I know she means “After the carnaval” LP. Winter, or summer, it makes us smile, especially that we both live on the same street, literally steps away from the beach.

Following the rule that the more multiculti the project is, the better, it applies to Brazilian contemporary music as well. If Brazilian music is already multicultural enough, how interesting it must be if you add up German and Dutch producers to it! I would like to present a very appealing group Zuco103 introduced to me during one of my visits to Amsterdam in search of the new sounds. I was following the Dutch label Dox Records at that time and Zuco103 was their revelation. They combined everything I loved in music: soulful/jazzy beat, vocals of the Brazilian singer and a bunch of exotic samples. Experimenting with different styles, from downtempo ballads to drum’n’bass and electronic music in an extensive sense of it, it cannot make you feel bored. One of their tracks is even called Brazilectro, which for me makes a great definition of what they do. All of their albums share the same surprise, cheerful sound, yet a bit of saudade mode, too. Find some samples below, some of them combine English and Portuguese lyrics, which makes a good starting point for the Portuguese-aficionado beginners. Well, it worked for me at least!

Wiki:

suco (zuco) – juice

Carnaval na Ilha

Travel

Em fevereiro tem carnaval… not only in Brazil! The cultural heritage between Portugal and Brazil is not only a matter of centuries – long colonial, complex relationship but also a matter of nostalgia and, once again, saudade.

So this year for a very short winter break, I pointed the Madeira Island as a destination. As it was known to me as the best place to spend the carnival outside of Rio de Janeiro or Salvador de Bahia (oh well, let’s not enter into the discussion which one is better…), I had to live the experience. And I was not disappointed, actually it surpassed greatly my expectations.

Madeira Island, a part of the autonomous overseas territory of Portugal is situated in the Northern Atlantic Ocean, and its archipelago consists also of the paradise-beach Porto Santo Island and Deserted Islands, which have no residents, as the name suggests. It is famous for its all-year long mild microclimate oscillating around 20-25 Celcius degrees and variety of flora and fauna. It is true that within one day one can experience 4 seasons, go to the beach, hike in the mountains or simply breathe the unbelievably clear air with flowery scents.

The carnival though is a special day for the Madeirenses, the inhabitants of the island. Just to mention that this island was for a long time a strategic location for the overseas travels and during the centuries it gathered not only Portuguese descendents, but also Brazilian and Venezuelan. They are very proud of their autonomous status and they also developed a very specific sotaque so to say. For the Saturday parade it takes much effort to prepare the samba groups costumes, sambadromos, choreography and what not! This year’s (2014) topic was the Sparkling Carnival and indeed, after a few hours of participating in the parade show, my eyes were wide shut/open with amazement. You can experience some of it having a look at the video attached. More happy and flowery posts about Madeira tbc!

Wiki:

carnaval na ilha – carnival on the island

“Em fevereiro tem carnaval” – “we have carnival in February” a famous phrase from the popular song “Pais Tropical” (“Tropical country”) telling the numberless advantages of life in Brazil

sotaque – accent

sambadromo – a place, normally a platform to show the performances of the samba schools during the carnival time

Água de beber

Music, Travel

Yes, this post is dedicated to water, and the bossanova classic. But as a matter of fact, it is mostly about Brasilia, the capital of Brazil where I lived for a couple of months.

It was there where I learn for the first time, quite strikingly, how important is to water yourself properly. This fascinating yet quirky capital built in 1960s in the middle of planalto is famous for two remarkable seasons (and two mejor neighbourhoods only, anyway – shaped as wings of a plane). The humid one starts sometime in October and lasts until April and meanwhile, the word ‘chuva‘ disappears from the BSB vocab. Residents claim that even though the showers may be abrupt and heavy, this is when their city springs with the sheer beauty. I did not have a chance to see it though. Arrived in the beginning of July, thinking in terms of the European standard four seasons, I could not expect the winter to be represented by constant sunlight, 34 Celsius degrees and humidity dropping down sometimes below 15%. During my first days I realised it is not an exaggeration that one have to carry a bottle of water 24/7. I also discovered some of my faves: Água de coco, the coconut water which I misspelled awkwardly at the beginning, to my Brazilian friends’ amusement (see Wiki).

Fair enough, the cheerful bossanova classic had to come to my mind. Comparing love to water may not be so original, but is very sensual and is somewhat typical for various MPB artists. Surely tbc in some other occasion.

Wiki:

Água de beber – water to drink, a title of the bossanova classic written by Tom Jobim and sung by Astrud Gilberto

BSB – abbreviation for Brasilia

chuva – rain

coco – coconut

cocô – shit (yes, if you put an accent on the second ‘o’ when asking for the coconut water, you will make Brazilians laugh a lot)

planalto – plateau

Avenida Paulista

São Paulo Confessions

Music, Travel

A city which never sleeps and which could easily be a self-sufficient country itself with over 20 millions of residents and participation in about of 40% of the Brazilian GDP. A centre of the world for many, and the most important business location in LATAM. Love it and hate it at the same time, São Paulo has gained its fame as the ‘true capital’, where the most important economic and cultural events and processes take place and is literally bustling with the multicultural spirit. It is much different from what one would expect from a typical Brazilian postcard. Rather, one can expect anything and be sure this city will not leave you cold. From almost 2 million Japanese neighbourhood, making it the largest community outside of Japan, through exciting clubs and bars, to last remains of nature hidden somewhere in the concrete jungle (like Ibirapuera Park, for instance). Also, contrary to fantastically boring sunny climate typical for the most part of the coastline part of Brazil, São Paulo has a very changing weather and seeing the sun through the smog and skyscrapers may not be so easy.

The is no better LP which would illustrate the all-time changing urban soundscape of SP, recorded by the late Serbian-origin producer Suba – São Paulo Confessions. This producer came back in the late 80s and got sucked in by the city and the Brazilian culture. Tracks like ‘Samba do Gringo Paulista’ or ‘Tantos Desejos’ became electronic music classics and great material for remixes.

It is difficult to get to know Sampa within a few days, and I regret not having had more time to explore it. It literally takes hours to travel from one part of the city to another, not to mention commuting between the airports which are based in three very distant locations. However, it seems that neither a majority of residents of SP are not familiar with their city, spinning in a wheel of the crazy drive. Blinded by the lights on the famous Avenida Paulista, the urban excitement leads to artsy Vila Madalena and on and on… Getting out of the stimulating SP state of mind may be equally challenging.

Sambaloco – on the joyful side of drum’n’bass

Music, Travel

This time I would like to focus on the meaning that Brazilian artists had on the evolution of the drum and bass style. The discovery of the Brazilian d’n’b in my case coincided with the first clubbing experiences sometime around 2001. Based in the city half-way between Berlin and Warsaw, I remember these days were quite inspirational. There was an interesting drum’n’bass movement in the Polish capital, before the clubbing scene went mostly handbag, and it inspired some smaller cities like Poznań to create various underground places in the Old Town. It was also the year of releasing a very influential mix: DJ Marky’s Brazilian Job. I bet I heard it for the first time in the legendary Radiostacja alternative radio programme, in the late-night show ‘Drum and bass cały czas’ and it knocked me literally off my feet!

DJ Marky is already a living legend of the Brazilian electronic music, together with DJ Patife, Drumagick, and on a lighter note: Kaleidoscopio, to name very few who added an important value to what has already been discovered in the UK. The title of the post comes from a remarkable compilation which gave to the world some of the all-time relevant anthems like Fernanda Porto’s ‘Sambassim’ or ‘So Tinha de Ser com Voce’ remixes.

They firstly revolutionized the scene throughout Brazil, starting off in Sampa (aka SP, Sao Paulo), and later on in the UK (with DJ Marky’s residence at The End and recently in Fabric London). In the first decade of the 2000s Brazilian d’n’b became truly an exportation good.

Even if nowadays d’n’b became just a marginalised part of the ‘bass’ music, I still admire the unique style of combining the Brazilian classics with the energetic beats. The Brazilian d’n’b golden age was so powerful as if the music was to describe the high hopes spirits of those years. This spirit I found nowhere else, but in the North-Eastern region of the country, contrary to the statistics. Most of the cities in the region are still struggling with violence, uncontrolled urbanization processes and poverty, but each year the conditions are improving thanks to the economic development and the politics introduced in the era of the President Lula da Silva. To me, Brazilian d’n’b pictures the changes in the North-Eastern region, with some of the most impressive beaches, cuisine and weather for surfers on Earth, approximately 365 days of sun and wind per year and still, with some striking poverty and inequalities. In my humble opinion, Brazilian d’n’b, full of energy, yes-we-can attitude and creativity, should become a national musical product to share and promote the country, to top up with samba and bossanova.

Lisboa – Luanda

Music, Travel

During those last couple of years I was close to consider myself as a frequent transatlantic flyer from the Lisbon’s TAP airlines hub. Be it Brazil, be it Madeira, be it any South American destination, Lisbon has been just a good connection point from the Iberian Peninsula, not as crowded as Madrid Barajas and offering very interesting direct connections with the South American and African continent.

The idea for this first within the series of posts is generated by my curiosity about the cross-Atlantic influences between the postcolonial Portuguese-speaking countries. This one would be about the Angolan presence in a modern-time Portugal and Brazil.

When living in Lisbon, my attention was not only attracted by the local culture, but rather by the overwhelmingly rich mix of the Afrolusobrasilian influences. This is where I learned my first kizomba steps, and where I discovered some underground places in Bairro Alto serving kuduro music as their main dish. Back in the day, 2008/2009-ish kuduro became a world’s electronic music fetish, as well, so I had a feeling I am in the centre of the world.

The most famous kuduro team, Buraka Som Sistema dedicated quite a lot of their tracks to describe the Angolan presence in Lisbon, with the anthem ‘Luanda Lisboa’

Angolan influence is also very visible in the Bahian culture of Brazil, with the richness of the Candomblé religion. For instance, in the 70s, a lot of MPB artists, such as Claudia with her ‘Ossain’, performed their songs based on the traditional lyrics, chants and traditions of this religion:

However, since the difficult crisis years commenced in Portugal, well, in all the Southern Europe in general, the migration tendencies seem to change. Each day several planes leave at least Lisbon’s airport in the Luanda’s direction. Not only the 2nd or even 3rd generation of the Angolan descendents in Portugal search for their professional careers in this African land of promise, but also the Portuguese and the Brazilians. Luanda nowadays is one of the most expensive cities to live in, but the salaries for the expatriates and contracted high-level employees seem to be also one of the most attractive in the world.

I did not have a chance to travel to Angola so far. However, I feel very tempted to do so given its rich culture and complex history. Still, unstable politics, striking inequalities in the distribution of goods seem to be a pain in the neck for a daily life of the Angolans. I hope to get back with some more insightful post shortly, maybe when I finally book the trip: Lisboa – Luanda…

Wiki:

Bairro Alto – a neighbourhood in Lisbon famous for cosy bars and small underground cultures clubs, a night life centre of the city

kuduro – is a type of music and dance originally developed in Angola in the 1980s, became popular worldwide around 2008, given the ‘dubstep-related’ trends

kizomba – ‘Angolan salsa’, a popular music and dance style in Angola, and increasingly in Portugal and equally in some other Western European countries, such as in France or the UK

Candomblé – animistic religion brought to Brazil from the Western African tribes (mostly: Yoruba)

Ossain – a symbol within the Candomblé religion