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Airto Moreira - Code: Brasil, Target: Recife

2006-03-29 20:37

Brilliant Brazilian percussionist Airto Moreira has been involved in a love affair with rhythm his whole life. Despite his overwhelming worldwide success as a musician, his heart remains rooted in his native Brazil, the country that helped to shape his unique, and much imitated, style of play.

Code: Brasil, Target: Recife is an expression of his love for the music of a particular region of his country - the culturally diverse state of Pernambuco. Unlike Brazil's more "European" cities, Recife vibrates to a very different rhythm: primal, unrestrained and totally unlike the structured sexiness of Samba or other traditional "Latin" forms.

On the face of it this is all very interesting and noble. There's nothing better than a completely fresh dose of music to force you out of your comfort zones. Too many of us use Samba as an aural shorthand for all things Latin, glossing over the enormous cultural diversity of the region.

But, to the casual listener, "Code: Brasil" is a bit of a repellent. Within the first few tracks the album melts into a cacophony of discordant percussion and voices, a jumbled stream that quickly turns to noise. The compositions have plenty of visceral energy, and are played with some skill and gusto, but they are utterly alien. Track after track sounds as though you have stumbled unwittingly on a voodoo ceremony deep in the jungle, and somewhere nearby a chicken is about to meet its last.

Unfortunately for us Airto cannot necessarily translate his love for these foreign rhythms to us. It's as though he is taking art lovers to a quarry and showing them a raw block of marble.

Airto's ability to absorb rhythms and mould them into his own style is part of what makes him a brilliant musician. But Target Recife leaves us stranded in his jungle, confused and a little frightened.

- Alistair Fairweather

Sadly, Moreira's love affair with rhythm leaves the average listener feeling like a third wheel

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