Sao Paulo Underground & Tupperwear - Saturno Magico [Keroxen - 2021]
Sao Paulo Underground is the two-piece experimental rock outfit of Rob Mazurek and Mauricio Takara, here collaborating for the first time with Spanish electronic outfit Tupperwear, for the vinyl LP release Saturno Magico. As I am unfamiliar with either projects work, I'll simply be evaluating this album on its own contents alone.
It starts out rather sounding like a lo-fi synth record, with analogue saturated choral voice samples and meandering, noodly synth in washed-out hues for the one-minute opener, "Papa Gamba". In the second piece, "Fajana", they reveal their true identity as a psychedelic rock band, with the thunderous entrance of a drum set, which quickly propels the sound into a motorik krautrock wormhole with exuberant fills and clever hi-hat work. Roles typically filled by a guitarist or bassist in such a band are here filled with keyboards, and more keyboards. Gritty distorted electric organ and detuned saws take the place of the lead guitar and wailing modulations cascade throughout the backdrop. Some curious tribalistic chanting closes out the piece.
The glosolalia gibberish continues into the neo-primitivist psychedelia of the track following, titled "Guanabanach", back by a dissonant, eerie drone. It's not unlike what I might expect to hear on either a Residents or Zoviet France record. For the track's latter half, we return to rock rhythms and melodic synthesizer work, this time with a middle Eastern melodic flavour and an odd-metered dubby rhythm section. I was surprised and pleased to hear a muted cornet in the piece's final minutes.
The subsequent two-minute interlude, "Los Realejos Underground" is an exercise in analogue delays, distant voices, muted cornet musings and expressive drum fills that create peaks and valleys. The way sounds from the previous pieces seem to bleed into the next makes the entire record feel like a single continuous performance, as if I were listening to a live album, and indeed, the liner notes state that it was recorded live, though not for an audience, in a 'disused kerosene tank'. The natural reverb of this environment is a big part of the earthy, authentic feel of the album.
The final nine-minute piece "Perenquénis" is the most kinetic and propulsive of them all, the drummer hitting hard in sync with a spirited chant, later complemented by feedback and swelling bass distortion. The group's energy is powerfully uplifting as the texture of the sound grows thicker and thicker to the insistent pulse.
It's a rather short LP, twenty-five minutes in total with three full-length songs (five to nine minutes) and three interludes of one to two minutes. It breezes by in a colourful blur. Though tuneful and reasonably paced, the record is playfully improvisatory, and left intentionally imperfect, with the instruments sketching approximate relations to each other, but not necessarily locking in perfect time. In this way it remains true to the original jam band history it draws from. Recommend for fans of krautrock and improvisatory textural psychedelia. To buy the release direct head to hereJosh Landry