domingo, 10 de agosto de 2008

This Blog Could be Your Life

The Ratos de Porão record of demo tapes and rarities. This is one of the oldest and longest standing Punk Hardcore bands in Brazil, and even in the world. They never broke up (notice the date of the recordings)

I came across this blog, Metal Inquisition, which deals with early 90s extreme metal, and by reading them I quickly realized that this was my life from 1990-95, with the exception that the guys at M.I. know very little about punk and hardcore (they can't tell the difference between Sore Throat and Intense Degree while listening to the Grindcrusher compilation) and they listen to, apparently, no other types of music.

The Grindcrusher compilation had everything one needed, at the time, to be "at the top of his game" regarding the most interesting intense music being made.

Ah, Sore Throat. I would never mix them up with the incredible INTENSE DEGREE. These are bands, my friends, that marked my life! I remember they (Intense Degree that is) even had a song called "Headache"in the 7" "Released" (as in "Released from Earache"?) about how bad they felt it was working with Earache. Sad. Why Can't We Be Friends? I actually asked Dig about this once and he said it would probably all be ok with them nowadays.

So I decided to tell my own story about dealing with punk and extreme music in the early 90s, and how it was to live through punk and metal in the late 80s and the 90s. Here it is.


My musical background started with Pink Floyd in 1987. Basically I think I randomly decided that I would listen to Pink Floyd's THE WALL from my father's vinyl collection, a lot. He used to listen to it when I was really small, and when I was about nine or ten I decided I should have a musical taste and listen to this band over and over. This led me to go through the other Floyd albums he had: Atom Heart Mother, The Dark Side of The Moon, Ummagumma, Relics and Meddle. It was pretty much a conscious decision that I made, to like the band. Bear in mind I was very, very young and I was very much impressed by The Wall, specially because the film version of it had come out not many years before and was available as imported and bootleg VHS tapes here and there.

It's strange that such a young kid was attracted to such a painful, depressing wall of anguish that is that album, and that film. But I was, and that, I suppose, also marked my artistic choices and sensibilities.

While I wrote this I drank tea from this skull-adorned mug my mother gave me, not that long ago. When I asked her "why did you gave me a mug with a skull drawn on it?" she smiled and said "what else could I give you?".

In hindsight ("hindsight can be a terrible thing", said a friend of H.P. Lovecraft in a letter to him, and the mere fact I am quoting something related to Lovecraft tells something about my formation, interests and readings). My mother gave me a skull-mug because, through time and my references, I built up myself to be a person that likes... skulls.

Poster for the first Kiss gig in Brazil.

Newspaper article on Alice Cooper's visit to Brazil, 1974.

Before that my musical inspiration was briefly liking Kiss around 1983 when they played in Brazil for the first time. This was the Creatures of the Night tour and the band was really impressive. I think a lot of my colleagues who were born in the 70s were drawn to heavy music because of that remarkable, memorable Kiss gig. I remember buying the album at a place called Shopping Center Morumbi, which still exists, sometime in 1983. This was the same year Return of the Jedi was show in theatres and we still were under military dictatorship.

Before Kiss came, the only major "rock" concerts by foreign bands we had were Queen and Alice Cooper, who played in the mid 70s. Van Halen also came around the time Kiss came, but I remember that Kiss, with rumors about satanism ("Kiss stands for 'Killers in Satan's Service!' kids at school would say) and their trademark make-up (which also made them look like comic book villains or super heroes) were more attractive.

I had an older friend who became a punk in 87, and in 1988, 89, he started recording me punk tapes. So these were my foundations in rock music. He suddenly cut his hair into a mohawk and wrote ANARCHY on the back of his denim jacket. He also constantly wore a Black Flag - Nervous Breakdown T-shirt.

We got things kind of late in São Paulo, and writing ANARCHY with a black marker on your jacket in 1988 was, I suppose, as shocking as it was doing it in London in 76. It still seemed aggressive, kind of dangerous and definitely very rebellious. This was 3, 4 years after the end of the dictatorship after all. Brazil was much less free than the USA or western Europe, where the punk subculture came from.

Horror and Fantasy.

At the time I was reading, partially because of this friend, partially because of finding about it myself, a lot of comics and horror books. He is a very good illustrator and artist and already was at the time. Because of him I got in touch with Heavy Metal Magazine, Metal Hurlant, Moebius, Druillet and more.

His mother, an interesting hippie-biologist lady, used to buy Metal Hurlant, mainly because of the art I suppose, and I was fascinated with the sex and violence, and the artistry in the magazine.

Parallel to that, due to my interest in horror movies I quickly found out about horror writers and books, and read loads of Stephen King and Lovecraft. Clive Barker was being published at the time and Hellraiser had come out as a film. Exciting times.

Métal Hurlant, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Lovecraft and Elektra: Assassin. Amongst many other pulp literature I embedded myself in, like the original book in which RAMBO I: FIRST BLOOD was based. This was what I was reading in the late 80s.

Little did I know that over 20 years later I would be interviewing Druillet about the foundation of Metal Hurlant/Heavy Metal magazine at his very own studio, or that I would interview Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman.

I don't think I ever felt again as excited about art as I did during these years, late 80s and early 90s. Art has a different impact in your mind when you are young. Your brain, and your taste, are developing, and one is able to get different things from music/art in general that you wont get anymore later in life. So it's good to choose carefully what you expose yourself between 13-25.

The punk rock scene in Brazil was very violent. Much more than I have seen and read about in other parts of the world. It was an interesting period of my life and an interesting time for a lot of underground music, plus the whole acceptance of this violence was never truly studied as an interesting case of madness, for it was. There is a documentary, made about the scene, called BOTINADA. Here is a torrent file for it, and it shouldn't be hard for you to find subtitles, dear reader. However the documentary mostly forgets the extreme violence of that time.

Brazillian punks, early 80s.

Some of the most important people in the first generation (early 80s) of Brazilian/São Paulo punks. Most of these people had bands at the time. It must be remembered that there was also a punk scene in Brasília, another Brazilian city, as well, although with different characteristics.

I wouldn't have wanted to be a part of this first generation punks, if offered. All these movements are just too close minded. That's why I loved Earache records so much, in the early 90s. It seemed there was no boundaries to what its owner, Dig Pearson, would release.

Everything on the Earache catalog from MOSH 1-100 is interesting. At its very worst the band is trying to do something relevant. In the best cases, it's a classic, a ground breaking work of art that will live forever.
I was so young at the time, and as I mentioned music and art affects you during your early years in a way, in my opinion, that will never do again in later life. It brands you in a way that will stay forever within you.

Earache Records.

Earache had a wider and wiser scope at the time. Digby Pearson was, I suppose, very excited about what the bands were making. There was no internet to check every new band, so getting music was always such a special and precious, unique thing. You had to actually get home to take the LP/CD off the case to listen to it.

I remember when Nocturnus released "Thresholds", 1992 or so. I was so, so excited, coming back home in the bus with the CD, looking forward to like this band, because it was after all an Earache band, and it had to be good.... And it was. A strange, weird techy death metal with keyboards and lyrics that seemed like stories taken from Metal Hurlant magazine.
We were more careful when listening to music, because you had to actually buy the album to listen to it, spend money on it.  This also made me research stuff more before I bought it, and more than that it made me make an effort to LIKE more weird stuff.

These bands were very distinct. Each had its own unique sound. Heresy, Bolt Thrower, Scorn, Napalm Death, Cathedral, Godflesh, Nocturnus. No two bands were exactly alike, they were like members in a family, and what linked them was the fact that they were the most extreme, intense, powerful and violent music done in a popular format, ever, in history. From ultra-slow to hyper-fast, amongst other characteristics.

The original artwork designed by Jeff Walker for the cover of the now classic SCUM, with, as it is told, his cat in front of it. I bet that Jeff didn't know the crusty-thrash/noise album he was designing the cover for with a very fine pen, sometime probably during 1986 or early 87, was going to be a "classic". This is going to be worth thousands someday. Mark my words.

These was an era where small record labels had an identity. I don't believe we have that, for metal and punk, anymore, and neither I think we will. This process began with Jazz records, which had such a tradition with this kind of approach. ECM, Impulse, Blue Note and so on. We were witnessing a cultural revolution that happened in England within punk and metal music. I think the first ten years of Earache at its peak are comparable to any great cultural movement, something like German expressionism that went from roughly 1913 to 1926. I will never forget getting the new Earache records all the time and being absolutely surprised by them, and learning about music with them. They just started so many sub-genres; grindcore, industrial, death metal, doom, stoner. It is impressive.

Pretty much all the music I ever made - as unimportant and insignificant as that is - was influenced by Earache. Certainly my outlook on art, and in my professional work, was also chiselled by the music I listened to in my teenage years.

Back to Brazil, 1989...

In the late 80s and early 90s, in Brazil, If you were into underground music and had any information, you were looked up by everyone else. At least by the newer generation of punks, who were into hardcore, not the ones who listened to 77 punk. If you bumped into someone with a Sore Throat T-Shirt in São Paulo, Brasil, in 1989-93... This guy knew about extreme music. Perhaps he was in touch with punks in Europe, he was trading tapes and letters with punks, or something like that. Where did he get the shirt in the first place? I remember being inside a bus once, in 1990 or perhaps 91, and seeing someone with an Unhindered by Talent ST shirt at the bus stop. I just felt like getting out of the bus to talk to him.

If you saw someone with a Extreme Noise Terror shirt, you would cross the street to talk to him. It meant he might speak some English. Maybe he had a zine or something, and knew a lot about extreme music and punk and hardcore. It meant you really had the same interests. Perhaps he read some vulgar underground comics as well. People who like comics, horror and sci-fi were always a plus for me.

Another nice Brazilian punk, early 80s. The album cover is for one of Olho Seco's best albuns "Botas, fuzis e capacetes" (Boots, rifles and helmets).

My friend Ulisses bought one of the first copies of Napalm Death's Scum to get in Brazil. Apparently out of his copy the owner of a shop called Rainbow Records, which exists to this day, made a bootleg of the album. I have a copy of the bootleg, and Ulisses also gave me the original he had, autographed by Mick and the other members when Napalm Death came here in 1990.

I remember this guy, Hugo. He had really short hair, was really well built, obviously was very much into sports and weight lifting. Hugo always wore sportswear and a cap. His name was on the thanks list for From Enslavement to Obliteration by Napalm Death and in Carcass's very first record, Reek of Putrefaction. This was a Brazilian sending letters to England before "Reek" was released, and that was very impressive. I always saw him at the famous "rock mall" in the early and mid 90s, I can't even remember the first time I saw him, but I remember the last. This was the late 90s and he was into electronic music, gabba I think. "The faster the better", was what he apparently thought, and he loved the ultra-fast beats of new electronic bands. Much like Dig, who also grew disenchanted with metal in the mid 90s.

Since he was in touch with so many people as early as to get his name on the first Carcass album, I was very impressed with him. Hugo brought news on editions of rare records, would tell stories of his collection. I remember he disliked black metal because "those bands curse Jesus, and I have asked Jesus for lots of good things, and he gave them to me". At first he didn't seem to be very religious at all, but suddenly, there was that.

Once he had just come back from England, and was trying to sell some of the stuff he brought from there to a goth shop we had at the mall called Deadline. One of the things he was selling was a strange gothic pulse watch with huge bat wings adorning it. It seemed to be uncomfortable to wear, and as "spooky" as something someone from the Addams Family would wear, which is not much, but he was trying to sell it to this shop which was taken by Alchemy (the British esoteric jewels manufacturer) products, so it seemed to make sense. He mentioned he worked as a physical education teacher, or at least was in college because of it.

A pity I never saw him again. He was a nice guy.

The "Rock Mall", in the center of São Paulo, Brasil. This photo makes it look lit, illuminated and safe. But it wasn't always like that. This building is from 1963, and by the late 70s it was already going down, getting old and abandoned. 

Ticker for the Venom/Exciter gig in Rio de Janeiro, 1986.

By 1980 it already was a hang out for punks, gangs, thieves and rockers in general. From then on it became a surreal place. They had loads of silk screening shops, T-Shirts and record shops, and that was it. Other spaces were abandoned, the escalators were broken and there was graffiti on the walls. I was robbed here twice in the early 90s. Not a safe place. People had fights there, and I remember at least two girls killed themselves jumping from the balcony. I also heard about people being thrown, but I am unsure of the accuracy, although it is probably true. Cronos from Venom was spat on by a skinhead when going down the escalator, in 1986, and just punched the guy in the face. Legendary.

Another common ritual was walking in this place wearing a band's t-shirt and being intimidated by a group of punks or headbangers that would ask you to tell them details about the band. Usually the band's discography. "Fala o nome dos play", (tell us the names of the albums) was a common phrase. In the end, if you were outnumbered, you would probably lose the shirt anyway, of course, regardless of your knowledge of the band's history, music and recordings.

Nowadays, it seems like Hot Topic. Loads of clothes shops, stickers and posters being sold, metal chains, these kind of things, accessories, but mainly t-shirts and "rock" and "goth" clothes. Money started pouring in in the 90s and the owners completely refurbished it. It's very safe and all nice. I miss some of it. Of course, some of the "mystique", not of the violence, I don't miss that at all, but the adventure of meeting special people, is gone. It seems people who really wanted information were there all the time. You would bump into them and they would become your friends, or just be interesting figures you knew from afar, like Hugo was to me.

The Internet killed that, as well as it killed buying music, apparently.

This is what it looks like now:

Another Brazilian guy in the thanks of Reek is someone called FERNANDO. I never knew who that guy was. Why wasn't he in our scene? Maybe he is not from São Paulo? I guess I will never know.

Olho Seco Live in 2004. Not that long ago, but still quite ferocious.

Ratos de Porão live in 1986 at a TV show.

Good documentary on Brazilian punks, from the 80s. Excellent images and good sad, keyboard-based soundtrack:

Imported fanzines were bought and traded, and people who could read English were almost like commanders of the hardcore scene. The old punks were basically gangs of hooligans, drunks and idiots listening to Sham 69, Pistols, Ramones, Buzzcocks etc, stabbing people. New guys, like my friends, listened to hardcore, usually European hardcore, and Californian hardcore, but rarely to East Coast North American bands like SSD and Dischord in general.

Sensationalist newspaper article from the 80s, in Brazil, commenting on punk "Horror".


More Brazilian Punks, early 80s.

 Sepultura in the late 80s.

I remember Minor Threat was known, but for East Coast all we really knew was NY hardcore. Occasional bands like Bad Brains come to mind, but bands like Siege and the such, Deep Wound, Jerry's Kids, Government Issue, Reagan Youth and others, I found out about them later, through grindcore. What people listened to was loads of Riistetyt, Terveet Kadet, Chaos UK, Anti Cimex, Lama, Crude SS and the such. Fabio, the lead singer from Olho Seco, through his contact and tastes, shaped much of our musical profile. Friends of mine still remember getting the seminal compilation of euro-core he released, Afflicted cries in the darkness of war, which featured bands like Anti Cimex, Rovsvett and Crude SS.

From the USA, well known and liked bands were the Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Circle Jerks. They were introduced into the country, mostly, through the skate scene. Skate kids listened to these bands a lot. Bad Religion as well, slightly later on.

I remember once in a Brazilian punk zine, in the late 80s, a guy was interviewed just because he went to London, and he was a Brazilian punk. That's how scarce information was. Equipment was expensive and bands were horrible.

Having an original Discharge record in your collection meant you knew what that band was, it usually meant you had gone out of your way to get it. The same thing, of course, applied to metal. The scenes began intersecting a lot in the late 80s. Specially because of Sepultura and Max Cavalera's will to make clear he liked Punk and Hardcore. He quickly became friends with Ratos de Porão, which was, at the time, basically a metal band. They would spend the late 80s and almost all of the 90s playing for metal audiences, opening for metal shows, etc.

I just got the end of that, the very end of that first era, as people much older that me were the real "founders" of the punk scene. I got the last years. 88, 89 really, and from then on. And to be honest, I never wanted to be a part of that. Looking back, it was what it always is in third world countries: a bunch of kids see something from outside, it seems to be surreal, exotic, interesting and wild, and they want to copy it. And so they do it, even if it is in the most inadequate way. I have nothing against that; foreign influences. I am basically a foreigner, culturally, regarding the unique culture that Brazil has developed here and can't be found anywhere else (Samba, Bossa Nova and so on). It has nothing to do with me. But some copies are just a little bit too much, I also dislike the idea of pretending I don't live here and that this is not my physical reality, and it it is too much for me just discussing, thinking about and having the values of, what is thousands and thousands of kilometres away from me, all the time.

A healthy thing of the early Brazilian punk, and I suppose that of it's incipient metal scene as well, was that if in one hand information about the cradle of these movements was scarce (USA and Europe), the creativity to make our own versions of it was flourishing.

People would invent costumes and clothes, some ridiculous, and ideas and music that crossed references which probably "shouldn't" have been crossed, according to the matrix, were produced. They just "didn't know" it wasn't supposed to be made that way.

The Internet has set standards and made everything very homogeneous. You only have differences when you have (at least some sort of) isolation. Total communication brings standards. When different cultures meet, they will eventually merge. It may be a long process, but it will happen.

I can see that now with the Thrash Metal revival thing. These people try to go into a time tunnel and dress as perfect replicas of the old bands. The need to be "there", in 1986. My take on this is that it is very sad, and about copying something, a will to have and feel nostalgia for something which is not even your past, it's someone else's.

It's exactly like cosplay or people dressing up/reenacting old westerns. Finding a little set of old rules within which you think are safe, and trying to live with them. Retromania is the death of art.

Violence and youth culture.

The scene was also taken up by violence. Punks and Skinheads. These were environments where total socio-paths, crooks, criminals and petty gang thieves, violent crazy, people, gravitated to.

They basically realized these "youth cults" were a place where they could behave in the most anti-social way possible. They could "fit in" and behave like criminals and violent bullies, be the people they really were, without having to deal with the consequences of normal society. They didn't care at all about the music, the art, the political debates, nothing. They behaved like psychopaths and that was seen as part of the behavior, as a "protest" towards society and as the way something so underground and anti-social should be. It was accepted.

I am sure that these people had to deal with consequences, and eventually the law, way sooner in the 40s and 30s, when you just couldn't escape into some youth sub-group that would embrace you like a daring outlaw if you stabbed people.

We knew that when we got into it. It came with the package. I suppose it was also exciting to enter this world of "violence". It really was a parallel world.

The singer of the punk band PASSEATAS, Pádua, who lost his right arm due to an explosion while throwing a bomb fighting a rival gang. Nowadays he functions with the aid of a hook, as it can be seen.

I was just re-reading an edition of the oldest Brazilian Rock magazine around, "Rock Brigade", named after the Def Leppard song. The edition is from 1990, when Morbid Angel came to Brazil for the first time. The magazine had a "No more violence in Rock gigs" campaign going on, being mentioned over and over on it's pages.

Brazillian punks in the 80s, celebrating the freedom and life as brothers who care for each other and really have got a plan on how to lead a productive, interesting, happy, fulfilled life.

For some years the punk bands couldn't have gigs at all. It would always end in someone getting stabbed. No bands would play. This ended up happening in metal shows as well, where skinheads would show up to stab and hit people. Punks and long haired guys, metal guys, were the main targets. 

Article from Rock Brigade magazine discussing the violence of the time.

"Rock always, never violence!" - Campaing by the same magazine.

In 1991 I went to a Ramones gig where a person was murdered. He was a factory worker I think, a very young kid, and he was stabbed, people still know who stabbed him, to this day. The murderer never went to jail. I remember reading an interview with the kid's father n the newspaper the next day.

In the same year Sepultura played an open gig at a place called "Praça Charles Müller" and a kid got shot in the face.

TV and news papers covered some of the violence, but few outside this subculture ghetto cared. These were mostly working class kids who got involved with music movements seeking a social circle and meaning in life. They did not really have social relevance.

One particular gruesome case was of a punk who was murdered by other punks and people in the underground. Pictures of the killing, and of the corpse, were taken, and shown around after the murder. A microphone stand was used in the killing. This is how heavy the atmosphere got, at the height of violence.

I remember now, these things were seen as normal in that time. As "part of it". Thinking back, it's strange that we all accepted that as normal. Almost a case of collective insanity. I remember after the Sepultura concert, a picture of the young man's body, wearing a white Sepultura shirt covered in dark blood. The picture was published in a paper in black and white the next day, I saw this in the newsstand where I always bought my Marvel and DC comics just outside school.

This is the Sepultura gig where the kid was shot and killed. Ironically, it starts with Igor asking for peace in the crowd:

The cover of the album from one of the first punk rock festivals which took place in Brazil: "The beginning of the end of the world". So many horrible bands at the same time, in such a small place. But there is historical significance here, I suppose. It may sound too cynical, but the music is so bad, an
d the people were so violent.

From the here and now I respect the courage of the people who started this because of the music, but it ended up being an artistic mess, with horrible records being released by crappy bands, and legions of thugs using the excuse of "punk" to be violent and beat up, steal and even murder others.

Since punk was such a "new" thing, and associated with art schools in England, with fashion and politics, it was not seen as something completely "stupid", like metal was (and is) seen as the soundtrack to drunken, mindless and alienated people who like to think about fantastic realms, Tolkien and singing about the Devil. Therefore, a part of the local "intellectuals" were interested in it. That's why this festival was allowed to happen. Antonio Bivar, an important play writer, supported the Brazilian punk movement, and even wrote the first book about punk rock published in Brazil. This book would become a guide on punk history for us to know about bands, zines, books, the roots of the movement. It's a pity that it was so little read by the punks pictured here.

It was very common to be stolen, or have your shirt or records taken from you if you went to the centre of the city and were wearing metal/punk/rock clothes. Specially violent were the skinheads, as they are always and everywhere. Maybe they were worse here than in England. More ignorant, even if that might be hard to top. I remember that if they were around, people might die. Also, we had some "Nazi" skinheads who definitely were not white enough to be listening to Skrewdriver, No Remorse and the Rock-o-rama catalog, which shows how diminutive their intellectual capacity was.

No news from skinheads in that sense.

I never saw anything interesting in this youth culture. Not even in the original reggae Skins, so obsessed with clothes and again, violence. I find it curious and interesting from the point of view of studying violence, but that's it. Besides that, the music seems to come strictly after the violence and the clothes, very poser, very narrow minded, very concerned with being "stylish" and a thug. I'm sure I am not giving consideration to some interesting people, but this is about my overall impression, and I make no apologies for it.

A considerable amount of people were killed/stabbed wounded at the time. One of my best friends was one of the upper middle class kids who spoke english and wrote zines etc. He's a bit older than I am and I remember once I saw scars in his arms and asked about it. He mentioned it was a knife fight with skinheads. Nowadays he is a PhD and a history teacher in an university. Come to think of it I am also a teacher in a university and I think we made wise choices of not letting our lives solely going this underground thing, even if the music, the artistic aspect, is good.

We could have easily hidden behind the whole set of "political" excuses of this subculture to avoid growing up, avoid going forward and letting new things and ideas get into our lives. I have seen that happen.

I have seen people putting themselves trapped into ideological corners due to the fact that they decided that they have to believe whatever "ism" it is. Due to insecurety, they decided to believe a single thing so deeply they would die if they tried to question that very questionable idea. They built-up their whole mindset around it, and desperation takes over if you criticize it.

I see lots of the others, not my colleagues exactly, but people from that late 80s generation, five, six years older than me or so, and they just spent their lives with this. Did nothing else with it. Nowadays some work at tattoo shops, some have record shops. They didn't build anything else for themselves.

Virus 27, a important Brazilian skinhead band. Their name, in a burst of creativity, was taken from Dead Kennedys's Alternative Tentacles's catalog number 27, "Plastic Surgery Disasters". Another example of typical Brazilian inadequacy, tackiness when trying to be foreign... (someone should make a band called MOSH 003).

One of the favourite musical acts amongst Brazilian skinheads, here the band proudly shows that they are patriotic, as I think it can be noticed.

If they were upper middle class people like I am, and were not really involved with anything gang-wise, they are mostly ok, with some sort of other things going on in their lives. This was just the way we spent our youth, when we decided they had to choose things to like, and had to get peer group and looks as a teen.

It's so easy to get stuck in this and shut yourself to all that is around you, judging everything from a throne of punk-rock righteousness. There is so much more out there.

Getting your Rock and Roll in the Third World.

When someone bought a record, an imported record, it was so expensive. EVERYONE would record it from you, and we would swap tapes. Not of demos, but of early Earache/Peaceville records and so forth. This was the early 90s. Later, when death metal got big, we would get a lot of Roadrunner and Relativity, and so on. Soon I left punk behind and went for extreme metal. By 94 or so "Punk" was Green Day and Offspring, not Discharge, Dead Kennedys and Black Flag anymore. I gave up on hardcore and punk rock completely. I would only listen to my old 80s punk records.

Only later, in the late 90s, I found out about labels like Ebullition, which were doing something worth checking out.

Thinking back, those first Brazilian punk bands were so bad. Like Armagedom (Brazilian spelling of the word) which was obviously inspired by Finnish core, Scandinavian core actually. They still sound horrible, but the record is worth so much money now. I remember when the shops at the rock mall, a four floor decrypt (at the time) building in the center of São Paulo, had stacks and stacks of those records, SUB, Cólera and Ratos de Porão, Brigada do Ódio (one of the first grind bands in the world!) Olho Seco, Lixomania, Inocentes...

In one way or another you could find all of these there. Easily, and cheap.

Brigada do Ódio (Hate Brigade). One of the first "noise" bands ever. This LP was so extreme for it's time, and it's from 1985, before "Scum", Napalm Death and even Repulsion had "Horrified" out. The music is very unfocused and raw, the blast beats are not blasts, but walls of noise. It still is an important and often neglected album featuring very, very extreme, heavy and fast music with punk lyrics and aesthetics. A landmark of extreme music, it's forgotten by historians of the genre.
Another example of naivety making something creative.

By the mid 90s the scene was safe. Violence was gone forever, it was a thing of the late 80s/early 90s. CDs were the rule and vinyl was nothing. They were just garbage. Nobody wanted any vinyl. Nobody had turntables anymore. By the end of the 90s, however, collectors began buying these horrible records and selling them through the internet. Suddenly, that which was seen as old worthless crap was worth gold!

They are sold by ridiculous prices on eBay nowadays.

Much of the Brazilian formation of hardcore and punk happened that way due to the fact that a member of OLHO SECO, one of Brazil's most famous bands, started corresponding with European punks. He embraced the DIY thing with his heart and released loads of albums through his label, NEW FACE RECORDS. He ended up releasing several European bands here and this releases shaped Brazilian punk and our taste; English Dogs, Terveet Kadet, Rattus, Crude SS, The Vikings are Coming compilation, Varukers. Some releases, like Rattus's metal album Stolen Life and Afflicted Cries in the Darkness of War were exclusive releases to his label. Stolen Life was released in France as well later, though.

Fabio, leader and singer of OLHO SECO, one of the most important Brazilian punk bands. he self-produced and released the very first punk albums ever made in Brasil, including GRITO SUBURBANO, a collection with three of the main bands of São Paulo, his own OLHO SECO, CÓLERA and INOCENTES.

The recording is poor and the songs, very, very simple. But it became history.

But I digress... As if this was not a huge musical digression. I can write more about this period of Brazilian underground later.

Into the electronic and Avant Garde realm.

Basically because of Art of Noise, which I began listening to in the late 80s, and then Nick Bullen and Mick Harris during the mid 90s on, I started listening to a lot of electronic and experimental music. I would just search for more things. OLD and James Plotkin helped fuel the need for stranger sounds as well. As I followed the mutations of OLD I needed to be weirded-out, I needed not heavier music, but stranger music.

I think it's typical of extreme music enthusiasts to look for more. I have met several people, through grindcore and death metal, mainly through grindcore, that had a very wide taste in music. Metal and Punk Rock people can be very, very narrow minded, close minded and simplistic. It's also very common to meet people who will listen only to bands that appeal to the most objective aspects of this art form; power, energy and a youthful passion for teenager dreams and the adolescent mindset. Basically they want adrenalin as music. That's all that music is supposed to be for them. Music is not something sophisticated that they like to think about, it doesn't bring them ideas, concepts, information, it can't be a formal experiment. They don't think of music as a whole art form in which you can analyse the use of the instruments, the form the artist has used them, in which he has changed them according to the song. They don't think it is like a painting in which one can notice the type of canvas, brushes and paints that were used, and why they were used that way.

It all has to be about instant emotional impact.

Maybe grindcore crosses that because it's so noisy and it is a formal experiment, atonal and several times non-rhythmic and spaced-out, messy. Which comes back on why A.C. wrote a song called "I'm glad jazz faggot's don't like us any more", which is a brilliant, vulgar criticism of the over-hype that John Zorn brought to the whole "noise" scene. I can't even bear "Japanoise" or whatever that is called.

John Zorn and me.

In 1989 John Zorn arrived in Brazil and came out of the airplane wearing a Napalm Death "Life?" T-shirt. Journalists photographed him, and the photo was published in a newspaper. He came to play on the then yearly, now extinct, "Free Jazz Festival". I was interested in Zorn because my father told me he made interesting music. I saw that picture and memorized the name, "Napalm Death", and wouldn't forget it until I found out a recording of the band a couple of years later. It was the second Peel Sessions album, and i found it at a shop called Devil Discos, at the Rock Mall. This would be my first aural contact with the band.

After Zorn came to Brazil I immediately became interested in his work and soon, due to that, around the mid nineties I knew a considerable amount about experimental avant-garde, specially New York stuff. I just went after anything Napalm Death members quoted, mentioned or played with ravenously. And then anything John Zorn quoted and then..... It never ended.

Because of my father, who is a musician, I knew and listened to a lot of other types of music. From classic to loads of jazz (which is what my father plays) and 70s fusion. But I actually got into extreme music by listening to Led Zeppelin and then the Sex Pistols, in the late 80s when I was 11-13. Led Zeppelin still is the music I like the most, probably.

Animal magazine, published in Brazil in the late 80s and early 90s. This impressive magazine republished European Comics and had a profound impact in my generation, a generation of young kids who were reading comics in Brazil in the 80s. I was constantly looking for underground and strange things at the time. Some of the best stuff
I had found in the Comic Book world was the french Métal Hurlant magazine, which was republished in the USA as Heavy Metal.

ANIMAL was inspired in the revolution that Métal Hurlant started, but also by magazines like L'echo de Savannes and Zulu. One of the most important things about this magazine is that it contained a magazine WITHIN the magazine, a so-called "fanzine" named MAU, which had information about gore films, rock bands and even a short but inspiring piece, written by Ratos De Porão's singer João Gordo, concerning "Earache Records", which, according to him, was a strange label started by an "unemployed punk called Dig", and which was committed to only releasing "grindcore, fast hardcore and pure noise".

This intimidated and fascinated me. The article followed with Gordo's reviews of Napalm Death, Intense Degree, O.L.D., Spazztic Blurr... Basically the first Earache releases. This was another pearl of information I collected before the Internet, and it seemed so valuable to read it, re-read it and imagine what this band "Godflesh," - he described as "the strangest thing I ever heard" - sounded like.

Back to the early days.

All I listened to before that was Pink Floyd and Neil Young, again, because of my father. Neil Young is the artist I have the most records of, still, more than 30 albums just by him, which is a lot to me. I should do another post just about Neil Young and listening to Neil Young when you are 11-13 years old whilst discovering grindcore, pretty much at the same time. Well, hardcore and punk rock really. I began really listening to extreme metal later, in mid 1991 when I was already 14. I remember exactly the day; it was my fourteenth birthday and I bought many records. Venom's At War With Satan and The Exploited's Death Before Dishonour amongst them. Good albums.

Anyway, from 1991 on I found out about extreme metal and Earache.... And my life, music-wise, became very much like the memories of these guys from the metal inquisition. Here is a link for their blog:

sexta-feira, 1 de agosto de 2008

O Cavaleiro das Trevas

Pra começar, esse filme é propaganda enganosa. Não tem nada de ser "O Cavaleiro das Trevas", a história do Frank Miller escrita nos anos 80.

Ok, o original é "The Dark Knight Returns", mas mesmo assim... pilantragem.

Steve Gerber, falecido esse ano aliás, já ensaiava essa desconstrução dos super heróis (aí, adoro essa palavra gente!) desde os anos 70, na verdade. Se você for mais elástico, no mundo dos quadrinhos mainstream, o filho do Duende Verde se tornando drogueiro/ganguista no Homem Aranha do final dos anos 60 já é relativamente barra pesada e "adulto", ao menos ensaia ir nesse sentido.

E isso são quarenta anos atrás.

Não acho que o filme tenha exagerado nessa coisa de ser "realista". Não foi um Asilo Arkhan, aí sim um tratado sobre a psique de personagens, ou o Piada Mortal, ou o Cavaleiro das Tevas (HQ) que é sobre memórias do Wayne, nóias, envelhecer, cheio de Flashbacks, voice overs, e enfim, reflexões sobre a identidade dele e sobre seu passado, sobre como esse o moldou, sobre tempo perdido, sobre se sentir fora de tempo e de lugar e ter construído uma identidade assim.

Não acho que explorou nada de profundamente psicológico dos personagens. O Coringa faz uns discursos-chave empolgantes e pontuais sobre caos que fazem a molecada falar "ai meu deus, como ele versa bem sobre o caos, nossa, me senti questionada gente! Chocou! Aí que louco, essa coisa né? O mundo é super caótico mesmo né turminha? Uma coisa assim imprevisível, sei lá, achei super louco! Vou até comentar com a fêssora de psicologia na aula de quarta!" mas não se aprofunda nada nos aspectos psicológicos pessoais dos personagens. Nem achei que o Wayne é muito explorado nesse sentido. Talvez o Harvey Dent... Mas achei a conversão dele para o lado negro relativamente simplista. Aceitável, ok, funciona, mas não é uma puta exploração psicológica da perda que leva ao comportamento anti social/desilusão/niilismo.

Não diria que o filme é simplório. Eu acho que ele simplesmente desconsidera qualquer discussão psicológica "realista" mais profunda e trata-se sim de uma porrada de cenas de acão com cliffhangers no final que te levam para outra, e para outra, e para outra, com quaisquer motivações como pano de fundo bem, bem em segundo plano. A cena da barca por exemplo tem um puta ponto de virada de expectativas legal, com o negão fazendo o inesperado. Mas eu sequer LEMBRO por que eles estão nos barcos em primeiro lugar!

Como eu disse, o que temos de mais desenvolvido sobre isso é o Coringa. Mas na minha percepcão o que ele faz de mais sofisticado é um discurso curto, pontual, sintético, bem articulado e inteligente para impressionar o público médio, sobre a natureza devoradora do caos que todo mundo quer negar - bu! - o que pra mim é apenas um ensaio, uma introdução a uma maneira de ver o mundo que conta muito menos do que a verdadeira preocupação do filme, que é fazer um caminhão virar de ponta cabeça de forma gloriosa.

Esse tipo e idéia impressiona o espectador médio que acha o que o Coringa disse super rebelde, chocrível, revelador. "KARAS, VOU SFREGAR NA FUÇA DO MEW PAI! O MUNDO É MAIOR CAOWS MEWWWW!!!".

Honestamente houve momentos nos quais eu pensava "POR QUE essas pessoas todas estão brigando? Why can't we be friends? Eu nem LEMBRO por que começou essa sequência de ação".

História, personagens e suas razões, de ser, viver e querer totalmente em segundo plano.