These demo recordings are an incredible find. They have to be of interest to anybody with a love of Brazilian music. Since Azymuth accompanied and / or collaborated with pretty much every musician who passed through Rio. From Airto to Jorge Ben to Marcos Valle. Some of the titles will be familiar to folks who invested in Azymuth`s late 20th Century / early 21st Century albums on Far Out.
A version of Prefacio can be found on 1996`s Carnival. Laranjeiras and Xingo on 1999`s Misturada 3. Castelo, Equipe 68, and Tempos Do Parana, on 2000`s Before We Forget. Duro De Roer on 2002`s Partido Novo. But these demos date back to between 1973 and 1975. Before the release of Azymuth`s debut LP. Melo Da Cuica did appear on a 45 in `75, and Manha did feature on that debut. However, the demo cut of the latter is an epic, seven minute extension of that instantly recognizable groove (the original LP version clocks in at under four).
These are home studio recordings, so it goes without saying that compared to the band’s actual releases on Som Livre, Atlantic and Milestone, they are raw. But the overriding message I got when typing-up my review notes was how fucking funky they are:
PREFACIO is Fusion, a “racing Funk”.
CASTELO comes at you cymbals crashing, organ grind, and “funky Clav”.
MELÔ DA CUICA is loose, bass-led, its “Funk Staccato” and Hammond B3 bumped.
QUEM TEM MEDO is all wah-wah-ed, a “Funky Blaxpolation” chase.
Fender Rhodes flashes mix with Silver Apples-esque Electronic buzz. Keys conspire in call-and-response with crazy Samba school whistles. Synths – Moog and Arps – soar in Mandre-esque solar flight, or generate Wendy Carlos-like weather. TEMPOS DO PARANHA is an oasis of downtempo calm as a tropical typhoon approaches.
There are strong similarities with the music of Azymuth`s European contemporaries. France`s Cortex, their 1975 LP Troupeau Bleu, and Marc Moulin`s Placebo, from Belgium. Say Humpty Dumpty from 1971`s Ball Of Eyes. But some of these demos sound amazingly current, bang up to date. Especially those, such as EQUIPE 68, that showcase the skills, the prophetically post-drum-and-bass batteries, of Ivan “Mamao” Conti.
You can order copies of Azymuth`s Demos 1973-1975 Volumes 1 & 2 directly from Far Out Recordings.