Jorge Antunes

Savage Songs: Early Brazilian Electronic Music

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The music of Brazilian electronic music pioneer Jorge Antunes (old and new) had been gaining in reputation since 2000 or so, lurking in the shadows and waiting to be rediscovered. Some of his pieces from the '60s and '70s had popped up unexpectedly on compilation albums -- the 16-minute "Historia de un Pueblo por Nacer or Carta Abierta a Vassili Vassilikos y a Todos los Pesimistas" closing this collection had resurfaced a year earlier on volume seven of the Russian series Electroshock Presents Electroacoustic Music. So it was only a matter of time before a diligent record label would come up with a thorough album of this visionary's early works. Pogus did just that, with class and a propos. Savage Songs culls two handfuls of short pieces and two longer works, all dating from 1961-1970 and presented in chronological order. The extensive (but uncredited) liner notes reveal not only the man's theories (correspondence between sound and color) and methods, but open a window on the social and cultural climate in Brazil at the time. Of course, the music sounds crude, as it was obtained from industrial soundwave generators altered with simple devices like echo chambers and pitch-shifters, and assembled with a razor blade and editing tape. But it ages well, like the music of Pierre Schaeffer, Hugh Le Caine, or Tom Dockstader. Antunes' invention and conviction transcend the passage of time measured through the evolution of technology. If his "Pequena Peça Para Mi Bequadro e Harmônicos" ("Short Piece for E Natural and Harmonics") can't help but seem simple and a bit naïve, it still has charm. "Canto Selvagem" ("Savage Song") and "Canto do Pedreiro" ("Mason's Song") balance serious sonic study and a desire to shake the listener with gusto. And the longer pieces show a keen sense of composition and drama, especially the aforementioned "Historia...," a classic of South-American electronic music based on Vassilikos' novel Z -- surprisingly enough, it also shares strong affinities with the works of Edward Artemiev and Stanislav Kreitchi from the same period. For those interested in the formative years of electronic and electro-acoustic music, this collection is essential listening.

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