Brazilian musician, songwriter and producer Pedro Guinu makes his debut on Razor-N-Tape with PALAGÔ, a record that speaks to the artist’s relationship with his current home – Rio de Janeiro – and the city’s strong connection to the roots of Brazilian music and African rhythms.
Recorded live in-studio, the LP captures the qualities and sonic textures of 1970s era analog recordings, evoking the sounds of Eumir Deodato, Marcos Valle and João Donato. Characterized by tasteful arrangements, improvisations, heavy grooves, and polyrhythms, the sprawling album fuses styles and influences to create something new and unique while maintaining a link to the past.
We asked him to talk us through the tracks of this magical collection..
When I moved to Rio, the first jobs I got were in Lapa which is a bohemian neighborhood in downtown Rio. When it rains heavily, the streets of the neighborhood always flood. Palagô is kind of a play on words or a portmanteau of Lapa and Alagou (flooded). This rain that floods, but also that cleans and purifies, is a theme that runs throughout the album.
PORTÃO DE FERRO
My first contact with religions of African origin were in Rio. In Portão de Ferro, I speak of an entity called Exu who in Candomblé serves as a guardian and a link between the human and the divine. This song was recorded in just one take.
I wanted to record a samba on this record so I reached out to some composers I know. My great friend and composer from Rio, Caio Nunez, had this samba that he gave to me to arrange and record. It’s one of my favorite tracks on the album.
This song started off as an instrumental with a beat that’s like a clave de samba. Through my studies of the African religions, I wanted to introduce the names of the orixás (African entities representing forces of nature). The arrangement presents a Cyberpunk aesthetic contrasted against the idea of the orixás appearing here as a warning sign of our destruction of the planet.
CEU DE SANGUE
This melody was one that was really stuck in my head. I’ll usually record melodic ideas on my cell and I realized that I had recorded the same thing more than once. The lyrics are by my partner, Linne Lira, and speak about racism, struggle and justice.
My time to finish the album was running out and I still wanted one more song. I asked my friend and great composer, JR Bocca, if he might have something. He showed me this and I loved it. The arrangement of this song is my favorite. The lyrics speak a lot about hope.
RARIDADE / LYO
Raridade is a samba rock or classic sambalanço tune in the vein of Bebeto, Copa 7 and Jorge Ben. I co-composed this number with my friend, Caio Nunez.
Achei Amor is a romantic song with stylistic references to baile charme carioca. It’s a balad typical of those sung by Cassiano and Tim Maia.
I’m passionate about rap and I wanted to incorporate it someway into the album but still within the aesthetics of Palagô. I felt like I could have a forró track on the record, so I tried to combine the two styles here. I invited my friends, Floor Polder on Flute and Ellen Correa who provided the rap which tells the story of the wave of internal migration from the North to Southeast Brazil.
Chorando Pitanga is one of my oldest compositions from back when I still only wrote instrumentals. It resembles chorinho combined with baião, two classic styles of Brazilian music, one from Rio the other from the North East of Brazil. The finale is a tribute to the album, Tchokola, by Jean-Luc Ponty, an album I listened to a lot as a teenager, and features American, George Mason, on the violin.