This music is characterised by a blend of acoustic instrumentation, electronic music, traditional bossa nova / samba rhythms, re-mixes and re-interpretations of Brazilian bossa nova classics, in order to make them more contemporary. A featured instrument within this genre is the classical acoustic guitar, played with fingers rather than a plectrum. An important compilation celebrating this genre was released in 2006 by the Putumayo label: Putumayo presents: Brazilian Lounge The All Music, website reviewed this compilation and characterised the genre as: “electronica meets samba or bossa, with hints of something adventurous now and then … [while being] simultaneously relaxed and grooving.” (AllMusic”, 2017)
A playlist has been curated for this genre analysis which can be accessed by clicking on the link below.
This playlist that has been curated and designed to highlight the type of stylistic considerations that accompany the genre. Re-mixes are common and well known artists within the genre, such as Bebel Gilberto, utilise re-mixes to great effect, accentuating the ‘groove’ / dance elements of her music. Ed Morales in his book: The Latin Beat notes:
“In 2000 Gilberto capitalized on New York’s growing fixation with cocktail lounge ambient music, an offshoot of the dance club scene that focused on drum and bass remixes with Brazilian sources. Collaboration with club music maestros like Suba and Thievery Corporation, Gilberto thrust herself into the leading edge of the emerging Brazilian electronica movement.” (Morales, 2003, p234)
The image below is a screen shot of the curated playlist mentioned above. There are two versions of Bebel Gilberto’s hit song: Ajanu. The original version has been placed alongside the re-mixed version provided by the production team; The Latin Project. This is a pattern that has been repeated throughout the playlist where an original version of a song has been placed next to a re-mixed version or a re-interpretation of the same song.
The original version of the song, incorporates traditional Brazilian percussion and instrumentation in new and interesting ways and is an important song for contemporary Brazilian pop music. The re-mixed version of the same song in the curated playlist by The Latin Project production team, utilises more ‘electronica’ and replaces the traditional acoustic guitar, with an electric piano, that has been treated with chorus and delay. The traditional percussion instrumentation is mostly replaced with an electronic drum track.
Brazilian Lounge music shouldn’t be classified as ‘chillout’, which is usually associated with well known compilations such as Cafe Del Mar . Chillout often features instrumental music and incorporates both rhythms and instrumentation from around the world. Brazilian Lounge by comparison shares the laidback ambience and wistful melodies that suggests sun and sand but, maintain links to samba and bossa nova rhythms. The acoustic, nylon string guitar, features strongly in this genre but will sometimes be replaced by a keyboard playing a similar rhythmic pattern, as discussed above in the Bebel Gilberto example. Brazilian Lounge often incorporates electronic drums, drum textures and rhythm patterns that suggest traditional bossa nova rhythms but which are usually more up-tempo than traditional bossa nova grooves and more repetitive with less dynamic variation. This last faction is necessary in order to emphasise the ‘groove’ and place the music slightly removed from club dance music.
One notable artist that should be mentioned within the context of Brazilian lounge, bossa nova and Brazilian music in general, is Marcos Valle. This celebrated composer, musician and producer, is one of the originators of Brazilian bossa nova and the composer of certified bossa nova standards such as: Samba De Verao (Summer Samba). He was a contemporary of other notable legends within Brazilian bossa nova genre, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto. Marcos Valle is a particular expert in the field of Brazilian Lounge, due to the fact that he is able to continue evolving the musical styles that he produces in order to keep his own musical output contemporary while maintaining links to bossa nova, samba rhythms and song structure. This evolution and re-cycling of bossa nova and samba songs and rhythms, is a defining characteristic of the Brazilian Lounge genre. An analysis of Valle’s 1998 recording: Nova Bossa Nova, (New Bossa Nova) reveals that:
“integration and progression were the key words. Much of the nervous energy of earlier recordings had been replaced by a reassured elegance. This translated into a series of tight musical workouts moving seamlessly between funk, samba, soul, jazz and rock.” (Far Out Recordings”, 2017)
Marcos Valle’s next album for Far Out Recordings,‘Contrasts’, focused on the use of contemporary production techniques even further, by creating a more ‘groove’ oriented album. Classic tracks such as: Agua De Coco. appear on the album and was also included on the Putumayo, Brazilian Lounge album. Valle is quoted in 2003 as saying: “Working with Far Out,’ says Marcos, ‘makes me feel young again. Roc Hunter (producer) and I worked hard to combine classic Brazilian harmonies and rhythms with cutting edge production.” (“Marcos Valle | Far Out Recordings”, 2017)
Re-interpretations of recognised classics from the bossa nova genre, is once again a defining characteristic of this genre. Production teams such as BossaCucaNova are interesting because their
“… approach to Euro-Brazilian fusion was unusually respectful of their home country’s traditions, putting the bossa first and the electronica second. DJ Marcelinho DaLua, bassist Márcio Menescal and keyboardist Alexandre Moreira burst onto the international dance music scene in 1999 with Revisited Classics, a collection of both new and old bossa nova songs given new life and vigor through the application of funky breakbeats, skillful turntablism, electronic manipulation and adventurous mixology.” (Last.fm”, 2017)
BossaCucaNova’s version of: Os Grilos, performed by Marcela (Marcela Mangabeira). is also included on the Putumayo compilation: Brazilian Lounge. The track serves as an interesting example of how artists operating within this genre, re-interpret Brazilian bossa nova classics. Contemporary production techniques are applied and new arrangements created to make the songs more accessible within a contemporary context. A comparison between the two versions of the same song can be made by clicking on the you tube links below.
When the Marcela version, produced by BossaCucaNova, is compared to the original Marcus Valle version (released in 1968), the song is clearly recognisable however, with the contemporary production, up-tempo rhythm and sonic textures plus sound effects created by BossaCucaNove, the Brazilian lounge ‘sound’ is clarified. Contemporary production treatment incorporates:
- Traditional bossa / samba rhythms that are modified to create a groove
- The tempo is faster
- Electronic drum programming is used
- The instrumentation and percussion selections may vary from the original
- Sonic textures are created through electronic / DJ produced sound effects.
The Brazilian Lounge version of ‘Os Grilos’ demonstrates a clear shift towards contemporary sound design and re-arrangement that favours ‘layering’ rather than tradition harmonic movement (chord changes). This provides variety within the song structure and maintains a steady pulsing groove that would be more consistent with dance music or ambience music for bars and cafes.
The curated playlist that accompanies this genre analysis has many other examples of re-mixes and re-interpretations of classic Brazilian songs to provide some really enjoyable listening for those starved of rhythmic variety and cool groove. Notable tracks within the curated playlist that provide contrast between the old and new versions of the same song include:
- The Girl From Impanema – Antonio Carlos Jobim and Astrud Gilberto / The Girl From Impanema – BossaCucaNova
- Brigas Nunca Mais – Antonio Carlos Jobim / Brigas Nunca Mais – Paula Morelenbaum
- Saudade fez um Samba – João Gilberto / Saudade Fez Um Samba – Marissa
I’m sure that you will agree that there is such a wealth of great composition, musicianship and funky grooves within this playlist to encourage most people to dig deeper into the treasure store of the contemporary Brazilian music scene.
BossaCucaNova’s Biography — Free listening, videos, concerts, stats and photos at Last.fm. (2017). Last.fm. Retrieved 6 December 2017, from https://www.last.fm/music/BossaCucaNova/+wiki
Marcos Valle | Far Out Recordings. (2017). Far Out Recordings. Retrieved 6 December 2017, from https://www.faroutrecordings.com/collections/marcos-valle
Morales, E. (2003) The Latin Beat. Cambridge: De Capo Press
Putumayo Presents: Brazilian Lounge – Various Artists | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic. (2017). AllMusic. Retrieved 6 December 2017, from https://www.allmusic.com/album/putumayo-presents-brazilian-lounge-mw0000352048
Que Pena, T. (2017). Putumayo Presents: Brazilian Lounge – Various Artists | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic. AllMusic. Retrieved 4 December 2017, from https://www.allmusic.com/album/putumayo-presents-brazilian-lounge-mw0002529406