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Ramiro Musotto: Sudaka

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

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Musical impresario Ramiro Musotto is Argentine-born and Brazil-based—argento-brazuka, he would say. His Civilizacao & Barbarye (Los Anos Luz/Circular Moves, 2006) won critical acclaim for its mix of traditional South American musical forms with electronica. Perhaps in response to that record's favorable reception, his 2003 debut effort Sudaka has been reissued on the Fast Horse label.

"Sudaka" is the name of Musotto's informal musical collective (drawing upon Cuban, Argentine and Brazilian musicians), but it is also a pejorative term used in Spain to refer to South American immigrants (the largest communities there come from Ecuador and Colombia). Used this way, the label gives positive value to the notion of trespassing, cross-cultural integration, and South American identity, and is a neat shorthand for what Musotto and his troupe do.

Admirers of Civilizacao & Barbarye will find much to appreciate here. The key difference is that the more recent disc sounded like a bunch of Latin American musicians, well versed on traditional instruments like the percussion-bow berimbau, dabbling with electronica to fine effect. Sudaka, in contrast, sounds like the opposite: an electronica devotee discovering various forms of South American roots music.

Either way, the musical interest arises from the tension between electronica and traditional musics. The electronica devotee's approach to rhythm is frequently stripped down to the barest essentials of pulses, digital information that could be depicted with almost perfect fidelity on a piece of paper, as in the opening moments of "Raio." Latin percussion traditions, in contrast, derive their effects from the sound of membranes, wood, metal, and above all a deliberate layering of superfluous auditory information—think of the riotous impact of the vast Brazilian drumming ensembles like Olodum, echoed here on the rhythm track to "Xavantes." These two worlds are very different, maybe even at odds; Musotto's method is to make them talk, and it's a fascinating conversation.

The highlight of the disc is likely "Botellero," built around a recording made by Musotto in Patagonia, Bahia Blanca, Argentina, of an itinerant collector of cast-off goods. He calls out the items he's looking for through a cheap microphone; the footfalls of his horse are audible. That this rather rustic and homespun audio material can be so successfully transformed into dance-floor material is a testament to Musotto's meta-musical prowess.

Sudaka is both a party record and a rich mosaic, with cues to Levi-Strauss' Tristes Tropiques and candomble; and a special bonus for jazz fans: a cameo by saxophonist Gato Barbieri on the loping "Antonio das Mortes," sounding by turns mellifluous and irreverent.


Track Listing: Caminho; Ginga; Raio; Botellero; Bayaka; Antonio das Mortes; Ijexa; Xavantes; Torcazas Neuquinas; La Danza del Tezcatlipoca Rojo.

Personnel: Ramiro Musotto: percussion, keyboards, programming, atabaque, caixa, berimbau, repique, cuica, synthesizer bass, apito; Gato Barbieri: tenor sax; Lulu Santos: E-Bow; Sergio Ricardo: acoustic guitar, vocals; Sacha Amback: keyboards, harmony vocals, electric sitar; Henrique Portugal: keyboards; Christiaan Oyens: Hawaiian guitar; Botellero: vocals; Buziga: vocals; Pigmeos du Nord Congo: percussion, vocals, clapping; Espiga de la Loza: keyboards, synthesizer bass; Camafeu de Oxassi: vocals; Alex de Souza: keyboards, Moog synthesizer; Kids from the Aldeia Xavante Etenhiritipa: vocals, clapping; Laucha Lencenella: bass, guitar, effects; Julio "Ciego" Moreno: guitar.

Title: Sudaka | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Fast Horse Recordings


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