Setting the scene: Salvador by Jody Gillett

Dec 02, 2013




An exclusive extract from Sounds and Colours Brazil, their brand new book focused on Brazilian music and culture. Written by Jody Gillett.

Bass Is The Place

Bahia is the state with the strongest African heritage in Brazil. For three hundred years, until abolition in 1888, Salvador was a major centre of the slave trade to the Americas. As a result, Salvador today is steeped in African culture. It’s a de facto cultural capital of the Black Atlantic, a city that has more in common with New Orleans than Brasília. That heritage of cultural collision is played out in Bahia’s music at a profound level and today’s artists also make the connect with contemporary worldwide currents.

Body-shaking bass beats run through Bahia’s DNA. Candomblé, the widely practiced Afro-Brazilian religion, has transcendental African percussion at its core. Those rhythms have long been channelled into popular music in Bahia and give a euphoric kick and heady identity to much of its sound.

“When [carnival blocos] Olodum and Timbalada hit the streets playing surdo drums, the whole neighbourhood vibrates. In Bahia it’s bass, bass, bass – it’s all about the language of the drum. We want to put that into a dialogue with electronic music,” says Rafa Dias, a softly spoken 23-year-old with cosmic tattoos who hails from Paulo Afonso, in the northern sertão/desert zone of the state.

His band Os Nelsons is a pioneering young presence emerging on the Salvador scene. They’re mixing digital beats, dub delays, dancehall and metal guitar with pisadinhapagode and arrocha – the ubiquitous pop styles of the day, pumped out of every bar in the region and routinely discounted as neon chart fodder. Os Nelsons fuse all this into a hectic, infectious blast of accelerated romantic melodies, heavy bass beats and rapid-fire vocals.

Read the full article at Sounds and Colours


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