Any individual or record label assembling a compilation of music from a particular point in history is faced with an important dilemma: should the compilation exist purely to be a full and accurate document of the music scene in question, or should it aim to function as a cohesive front-to-back listening experience, much as an LP would? A compilation need only truly excel at one of these two functions to be good, but every so often there arises a compilation that excels unquestionably as both a historical document and as an interrelated listening experience; “Outro Tempo: Electronic and Contemporary Music From Brazil, 1978-1992”, assembled by Dutch label Music From Memory, is one such compilation.
“Outro Tempo,” first and foremost, fulfils the promise of its title. This collection of 17 songs serves as an excellent assortment of electronic music, both experimental and pop-oriented, from a part of the world who’s contributions to modern and electronic music –vast as they are- often overlooked listeners and the music media alike. In that sense, “Outro Tempo” is a prime educational endeavor. Just as significantly, the compilation is just a pleasure to listen to. The tracks are stylistically varied (from the jazzy long-form synthesizer noodlings of “Gestos De Equilibrio” to the avant-garde strings of “Sol Da Manhã”) but the compilation as a whole suffers from no lack of overall cohesion and consistency because of it; rather than scattered, it feels explorative.
Although spanning fewer than 20 years, the sonic diversity within “Outro Tempo” serves to paint it as a vast collection of music from Brazil’s deep history to what may exist in its distant future. Indeed several tracks, such as the dense percussive and polyphonic vocal arrangement of “Madeira II (Mãe Terra)”, are heavily influenced by traditional Brazilian music (albeit often with a modernist twist), whereas tracks immediately adjacent seem almost completely out of time, such as the staccato-heavy hypnosis of “Sem Teto”. More often than not however, tracks will embody both functions at the same time; tracks like the spaced-out percussion of “Amanhecer Tabajara (À Alceu Valença)” or atmospheric echoes of “Por Quê” take elements of conventional and traditional Brazilian music, and send them spiraling into the relentlessly postmodern future, making them a wonder to human ears.
No matter what time or era or strange otherworldly creative mindset these pieces may appear to have been born of, they all have it in common a clear derivation from the same place; they are all uniquely and beautifully of Brazil.
Purchase the compilation here from Music From Memory