In the 1980s, while urban centers of the Brazilian south like S‹o Paulo, Bras’lia and Rio were inundated with homegrown rock movements, Pernambuco didn't have much of a music scene at all. It was a colonial relic plagued with inequality and poverty - and with the infamous distinction of it's capitol, Recife, being named "fourth worst city in the world to live in" by a population studies institute in Washington, D.C. Its economy resembled the brackish, stagnant water all around it that was slowly being converted to dumping grounds and stilted shantytowns.
The response to this ecological, cultural and industrial degradation was the Mangue Manifesto, written by Recife journalist and musician Fred Zero-Four:
"Emergency! A rapid shock or Recife dies of heart attack! It is not necessary to be a doctor to know that the simplest way to stop a heart is to obstruct it veins. The quickest way to kill and empty the soul of a city is to kill its rivers and fill its estuaries. How to avoid drowning in the chronic depression that paralyses the citizens? How to return some courage and recharge the batteries of the city? It's simple! It's just to inject some energy in the mud and stimulate what's left of fertility in the veins of Recife."
Fred Zero-Four had gotten together with his colleague Chico Science, another Recife musician interested in jump-starting the local "scene." Their philosophy? To tap into the extreme diversity spawned along the coastal swamp. To use the mangue swamp as a space for excavating traditional sounds and for receiving satellite transmissions from across the world. To celebrate hybridity and make a defining mark on what the 2000's are all about. Their music? An explosion of punk-rock-funk-rap-electronic sound, infused with the maracatu, coco, ciranda and embolada rhythmic traditions of the rural northeast. The marketing? A revolutionary effort by Paulo Andre, curator of this compilation.
Now Luaka Bop issues a collection celebrating that scene entitled Brazil Classics 7: What's Happening In Pernambuco. Set for release in February 2007, the album will capture those new sounds in the Brazilian Northeast. The musicians on this new CD is the beautiful step-children of that movement. Chico Science and Nacio Zumbi served as the Velvet Underground from which 1,000 other bands sprung. Hear them, now. Read more about their individual sounds and histories in the Luaka Bop yearbook.