LIKE the Tropicalia movement of the late 1960s, in which artists such as Os Mutantes and Gileberto Gil turned to the creation of music as a pushback against political extremism, Thiago Nassif is leading a a musical reaction to the chaotic populism of the Bolsanaro era in Brazil.
He debuted in 2009 with Garconnière, an album built around audio collages. He became active on the Sao Paulo independent scene, improvising in clubs, galleries, and art installations. In 2011, for his second set, Práxis, he gathered a supporting cast of musicians, painters, sculptors and architects, who each brought their own perspectives and techniques.
In 2015, Thiago moved to Rio and released Três, leading to a meeting with no-wave icon Arto Lindsay, who said of Thiago: “[He is] the leading light of the new generation of Brazilian songwriters”.
Now he’s sharing new single “Santa” ahead of third album Mente, which is due to drop on July 3rd: and if a really fertile, futuristic mash-up of wildly disparate musical traditions and high creativity is your thing, stop by and spend some time with him.
“Santa”, which has Arto Lindsay co-producing, is built around a polyrhythm which your hips can still detect beneath layer of glitch and acidy tronica burble. Thiago’s vocals have a retro robotic filter; prettier, languid guitars break in and out. It’s curious and unsettling and Latinate gone minimally experimental.
Of the single, Thiago says:“The lyrics were written by [visual artist] Fernanda Zerbini and I. This song is about androgynous and transgender people who surpass conventional binary paradigms of sex. It is about a species that has no polarities, a rising new solution to our society.
“‘Santa’ was composed as an Afoxé rhythm – which comes from the Candonblé, an animist religion, originally from the region of present-day Nigeria and Benin, [which was] brought to Brazil by enslaved Africans; it’s also based on the funk carioca rhythm created in the favelas of Rio”.
It’s a pointer for an album which promises to move from “contemporary Brazilian music to noise … from funk carioca to distorted bossa nova”; and if a sneak preview of the album’s title track is anything to go by, expect some uncannily turn-of-the-Eighties’ Bowiesque vocal delivery as well!
Hear “Santa” at https://thiagonassif.bandcamp.com/track/santa
Thiago Nassif’s Mente will be released by Gearbox Records on July 3rd and be available on vinyl, CD and across all digital platforms. To pre-order, visit https://thiagonassif.bandcamp.com/album/mente