Zuco 103

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Zuco 103's music is, like its lineup, a unique and wonderful Euro-Brazilian hybrid. Dusky-voiced Lilian Viera is supported by keyboardist/programmer Stefan Schmid and drummer/programmer Stefan Kruger, and the music they make is a highly successful fusion of samba, bossa nova, trip hop, jazz, funk, and drum'n'bass. For all of its potential, a mixture like this one doesn't have to be successful -- less talented and thoughtful musicians would let the musical ideas get lost in willful eclecticism or would use the trappings of one tradition as mere decoration for another. Instead, Zuco 103 uses the varying backgrounds of its members synergistically, letting Bahia-style drumming segue neatly into jungle breakbeats ("Brazilectro"), or reframing traditional Brazilian percussion in a drum'n'bass context, complete with vinegary, ultra-low basslines, and bossa-nova-ish vocals ("Um Coco"). When the harmony vocals kick in on the chorus to that last song, you'll think you've died and gone to the beach. There's a clunker or two on this program (the cheesy lounge samba of "No Bar do Samba" is a bit much), but overall it's a solid winner.

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