Antonio Pinto / Ed Cortes

City of God [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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In Brazil's poverty stricken City of God, crime is a way of life. Parents are dead, locked up, or otherwise engaged. As in Oliver Twist -- one of this thrilling epic's many unlikely influences -- the children of the slums take their cues from whatever parental surrogates they can find. No, not the cops or local politicians (who are probably on the take anyway), but rather the pushers and thieves who really control the city, like this film's psychotics Little Zé and charismatic Knockout Ned. But there's one bright spot amidst all the petty jealousies and violent reprisals: the music. Set in the 1960s and '70s, Antônio Pinto Junior and Ed Côrtez' swinging soundtrack doesn't concentrate on the expected Brazilian musical styles, like bossa nova or samba, but rather heavy funk, space rock, and other evocative, scene-setting excursions into the dominant musical expressions of the day. "Meu Nome e Zé" commands attention from the start, opening as it does with the sound of Zé's gruff voice, and segueing into a bass-heavy throwdown worthy of the Ohio Players, while the brief "Vida de Otario" has a pronounced Funkadelic feel. "Metamorfose Ambulante," which evokes David Bowie and Roxy Music (particularly in terms of the soaring vocals) and "No Caminho do Bem," which evokes Germany's Can (circa the twisted disco of "I Want More"), are further highlights. The soundtrack comes to a close -- and is brought up to date -- with a techno remix of "Batucada" by DJ Camilo Rocha and DJ YAH (featuring again, as in the first track, the voice of the nefarious Little Zé).

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