Various Brazilian Beats 5

Here’s another grab bag of new and old Brazilian grooves from the Mr. Bongo label/expensive record shop in London. With volume five, the new material is increasingly polarised from the old. There are many painful attempts at grafting contemporary American styles into a Brazilian Portuguese language format with embarrassing results, like the crunky "Follow Me Follow Me.” Not that these attempts should be dismissed — the fusion of Afro-American dance forms with Brazilian content has been happening since the ’60s. The foremost exponent of this — Jorge Ben — is represented twice. As suggested by these tracks, the difference between today's fusion and yesterday’s seems to be the lack distinctive Brazilian elements shining through. The samba-fired percussion, delicate and inventive melodies and unique sonics are lacking in the use of mass-manufactured electronic instruments and let's face it, hip-hop has never been a form to breed melodic ideas. Now, I'm not one to tell Brazilians how they ought to be, but it doesn’t take a genius to recognise an inferior copy of a foreign form done without any trace of kitsch or experimentation. Look to the end of the disc, with the tracks "Tudo Bem” by Sasso, and "Inudub” by Mamelo Sound System to demonstrate how great Brazilian fusion can still be. (Mr. Bongo)