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Lula Cortes e Ze Ramalho - Paebiru

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Artist: Lula Cortes e Ze Ramalho

Album: Paebiru

Label: Shadoks

Review date: Oct. 5, 2005

Originally released in 1975 in Brazil, this album is one of those nearly-unknown and unobtainable psychedelic “lost classics” that, even if found, would cost about the same amount as a used car. A fire destroyed more or less all of the original copies, creating perhaps the ultimate obscurity. In all honesty, most such “lost classics” are disappointing when finally obtained, but happily that isn’t the case with Paebiru. Shadoks has done the worlds’ dope smokers quite a favor by making this available.

But how to describe it? The closest comparison might be to combine Amon Düül with Sunburned Hand of the Man and perhaps Double Leopards, if they lived on a commune together in Brazil and recorded while indulging in mass quantities of mescaline. There’s piano; then there’s oboe; then there’s crazed hand percussion, followed by freaked-out fuzz guitar and chanting. Wait, there’s some flute and acoustic guitar pluck and strum. But it all works, oddly enough. This isn’t just weirdness for its own sake.

There are plenty of surprises, like moments of pretty strings (“Harpa Dos Ares”), lazy jazz, and zoned out drone-raga (the aptly-titled “Omm”). But it’s moments like the guitar freak-out over trippy sitar midway through “Raga Dos Raios” that make you shake your head, thinking that this just shouldn’t work. But it does.

It’s barely even worth mentioning that the album purports to encompass the concept of the four elements, with the songs divided among them. Damned if I can tell why the bass and organ throb of “Nas Paredes Da Pedra Encantada” is under “Fogo” (Fire), while the beautiful acoustic guitar of “Trilha De Sume” is part of “Agua.” Perhaps the lyrics might give a clue.

And there’s where my only complaint about this reissue exists: the album’s original cover art is seemingly reproduced faithfully in the CD booklet, including extensive liner notes. Alas, they are microscopic and not translated. An opportunity still exists, then, for someone else to do us all a great favor and reissue this – yet again – with translations and perhaps additional history about those involved.

By Mason Jones

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