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Secos & Molhados - Secos & Molhados CD (album) cover


Secos & Molhados


Prog Folk

4.21 | 26 ratings

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5 stars The supernova that destroyed, reshaped, shone impossibly bright, and died right after: 10/10

(note: SECOS & MOLHADOS = album, SECOS E MOLHADOS = band)

I want to clarify that I the album and its context are deeply intertwined, it is impossible to evaluate the first without the latter. How the music sounds and what it represents are fruits of its setting. Of course, without knowledge of its background the album will still be enjoyable, but perhaps not nearly as fascinating as it truly is.

And so, to claim SECOS & MOLHADOS is a revolutionary album is an understatement. Released in 1973, during the worst period of the military dictatorship in Brazil, its eclectic variety and daring nature captivated Brazilians in a way never seen before; they became a hit so monstrous they threatened to dethrone the nation's Elton John, Roberto Carlos, from the top. The album's style was built over the structure of the psychedelic "subversive" (but culturally enrichening) Tropicália movement. Nurtured by those roots, SECOS outputted something equally meaningful and audacious. Rather than doing so through a multifaceted effort that required numerous artists, all SECOS needed was thirty minutes, androgynous makeup, and lush songwriting. After those thirty minutes, the deed was done: they defined the direction of a nation's pop music on a way done before only by Sgt. Peppers, and broke so many paradigms - musical and socially speaking - that the Brazilian society would never be the same anymore. The album (& band) name is a term used to define bazars that sell all sorts of stuff. Alternatively, as spoken by bandleader João Ricardo, "a name that doesn't determine anything, [a name] which is open to all genres". He believes (rather fairly) the album is engrained on popular music, and consider the band (but not its music) rock - their libertarian, paradigm-breaker attitude.

As we can attest, SECOS E MOLHADOS' manifesto was indeed to be open to all: ranging from glam rock to Brazilian folk, from Latin to Portuguese folklore and music. This eclecticism was a way to be appealing & please all distinct tastes: [politically] engaged would enjoy Primavera nos Dentes and Mulher Barriguda; Rosa de Hiroshima would become pacifists' anthem; Prece Cósmica was rapidly adopted by hippies; Rondó do Capitão pleased the infant public; Vira was a sensation to the massive public of the radios, and lastly, the music poems brought a (non-pompous) erudite tone for the delight of the scholarly. Highly emblematic, the lyrics (especially the music poems) are more often than not vastly lavish, "offering a lyrical richness seldom seen in Brazilian popular music (MPB)". João Ricardo's songwriting skills are laudable, especially if you consider he composed roughly all songs. Ney Matogrosso's feminine, delicate tenor vocals fascinate listeners from its first appearance. The musicianship isn't in any way excelling (aside from Ney), but the innovating blend of electronic devices (such as distortion or synthesizers) with traditional instruments to play folksy Brazilian music makes up for that.

Some tracks deserve highlight. Sangue Latino (Latin Blood) opens with a bassline whose arrangement "is marked by the characteristics of the epoch's pop music" whilst the lyrics alluded to "the Latin American condition of waywardness and resistance". Nonetheless, the way they used rattles and guitar makes it an allegoric Brazilian folk song. O Vira (The Turn) refers to the Portuguese folkloric choreography dance with the same name, except that on SECOS E MOLHADOS' version it has an electronic and distorted rock sound, which later changes to traditional accordion-driven melody of the gaúchos or nordestinos, (regional) peoples from Brazil. O Patrão Nosso de Cada Dia ("Our Everyday Employer") is a melancholic acoustic song, with a strong performance by Ney and sweet pastoral flutes sweeps that reminds me of STORIA DI UN MINUTO. Assim Assado is the "progressive rock" properly said, using heavy guitar distortion, 7/8 time signatures and generous amounts of bongo and flutes. The title and lyrics feature wordplay between the words "Assim Assado", which is a popular term that means "like this and that", but if taken literally, can mean "Cooked like this" as "assado" means cooked. Last and not least is Rosa de Hiroshima ("Hiroshima Rose"), acclaimed poet Vinicius de Moraes' poem, musicalized. The title might be self-explanatory: an antiwar, anti-nuclear cry, "The Hiroshima rose / the hereditary rose / the radioactive rose / stupid and invalid / the rose with cirrhosis / the atomic anti-rose".

SECOS & MOLHADOS' biggest achievement was not flirting with various genres nor its beautiful lyricism, though; it was slipping through violent censorship. Their creativity and insolence managed to overcome repression and signified a scream of victory for freedom. Inadvertently, they reinvented how music would sound like in the future, a reason that makes it an authentic progressive record.

Rather obviously, the only way they could influence society as profoundly as they did was if they harnessed immense support - which they did. Although slightly popular since its roots, their devastating fame was achieved after appearing on national television. Used to the same-old musicians, the masses were enthralled, to say the least, when they first watched the trio, ornate with profligate face paint, playing that strange uncommon music. Dumbstruck, then, when they watched Ney Matogrosso's sweetly feminine vocals singing Sangue Latino while rhythmically belly dancing. On the following days, curious hundreds of thousands checked vinyl stores looking for those weird "Secos e Molhados" dudes, who then sold almost 300,000 albums in 60 days, setting a record for the Brazilian phonographic industry.

I always dismissed Brazilian music as "too folksy" or "uncreative", while praising other nations' folk bands? after meeting SECOS & MOLHADOS I realized how wrong I was. Brazil offers true masterpieces just like any country. For me, the album is an illuminating epiphany, in a certain way similar to what it originally was forty years ago for so many others. For as much as I recommend this to everyone (check YouTube for a sneak peek), from folk lovers to prog lovers to Brazilian music lovers, I need to warn you: this is not your average progressive rock, as it lacks rock. This is just progressive. Pure, distilled, progressive.

Luqueasaur | 5/5 |


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