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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America


By Tom Orr
Published August 24, 2005

Fantastica Batucada
Iris Music

Brazil’s samba schools, renowned for their percussion ensembles that carry on the rhythmic traditions at the heart of the country’s popular music, are many and varied. The ensemble of the renowned Mocidade school is captured en masse on this disc, playing pure percussion with a mixture of African-drenched abandon and almost military precision. The deep rumble of the surdo drums forms the foundation and the overlapping layers of pandeiro, agogo bells, squeaky cuicas and more create a kind of controlled chaos which enables you to clearly hear just how intricate that uniquely Brazilian sort of percussion interplay can be. There’s a level of this kind of intensity within the music of Carlinhos Brown, Daniela Mercury and the like, so think of this disc as a full-throttle version of those inner workings. The individual pieces can be a bit repetitive and are thus wisely kept short, but anyone with a hankering for something that’s primal yet refined (or anyone who likes percussion music that takes no prisoners) will love an earful of this.