- A wide array of quality material from the low-key tastemakers in Rio de Janeiro.
- The internet and cheap technology promised to be the great equalizer, allowing artists to reach an audience instantly—in theory, at least. The truth is that although there are countless ways to make one's music available, it's becoming increasingly difficult to get noticed amidst a never-ending deluge of new material. Labels with fearless curation that distinguish them within this geyser of content are few and far between, but ULYSSA Presents: 40% Foda/Maneiríssimo brings together two imprints that fit the bill, joining forces to amplify a fascinating, underrated milieu of Brazilian artists.
ULYSSA is "a young label and art project based in Bloomington, Indiana and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico" according to their Bandcamp page. Each release is available digitally and on limited-run cassettes. The range of releases from the young label reflects its self-identification as an art project. Their debut release is a live field recording of a 1987 John Cougar Mellencamp and Lou Reed concert in Bloomington. Other tapes include covers of classic Bob Marley songs interpreted by Norwegian indie duo Konradsen and a collection of South African Christian trap courtesy of Johannesburg's Double Gee. ULYSSA displays a truly wide variety of taste, so much so that there's no clear throughline. For their latest, ULYSSA spotlights 40% Foda/Maneiríssimo, a Brazilian label that has gradually been making waves in international dance music.
40% Foda/Maneiríssimo is the creation of Lucas de Paiva and Gabriel Guerra, two musicians with eclectic tastes releasing projects from their base in Rio de Janeiro. Both have numerous credits and monikers under their belt, with Guerra releasing a few side projects on Max D's label Future Times. The majority of their output comes out as CD-Rs and digital releases sold exclusively through their Bandcamp.
The label's releases are a reflection of both Rio's pre-Covid DIY dance music scene—in which wild parties went down in informal upstairs clubs, parking lots and abandoned gas stations —and the city's legendary musical history, which manifests in a scene of extraordinarily skilled younger musicians who are also interested in leftfield electronic music. Many 40% artists are professional musicians who gig in hotel lobbies or back up mainstream Brazilian artists. One such figure, Rebello, earns a living doing speedruns for video games like Super Mario 64. His releases feel like a respite from his frenetic "day job"—they're jazzy, chill electronic soundscapes that are nevertheless influenced by his many hours spent playing vintage video games. Releasing through the label gives many an outlet outside of the confines of their professional session work, resulting in a wild style, virtuosic creativity that defines the label's singular aesthetic.
This collection is a great snapshot of the many different vibes on display in each release on 40%. There's a little something for everyone, provided you're looking for quality and a fluid approach to genres. Heavy jazz influences abound, and the quality of musicianship on each track is remarkable. Although not overt, the Latin American aesthetic can be heard in the choice of percussion and the speed of the rhythms. Tracks like "Tele-Sexo" and "119 BPM" are prime club fodder that will get dancefloors pumping. There's a nod to the country's Miami bass and electro-influenced Baile funk heritage on Kauan Marco's "Mc Parker". Some of the tracks, like "Hamburger" and "Modelo WeChat," even wade into UK garage and dubstep territory.
Retro vibes factor into a fair amount of this material, such as Akira S's city pop-influenced cut "Honda San." Kauan Marco takes it in a different retrospective direction with the video game inspired aesthetics of "Fusion 2020." "Simpsons," meanwhile, is a slap bass and organ extravaganza cover of the famous TV theme song. Futuristic jazz is represented with two offerings from Guerrinha, serving as the intro and outro. "Flautas Cosentino" and "Agropecuária Falcão" incorporate crowd noise and modern instruments for some of the collection's most compelling moments. "Almoço Com Meus J'adiros" by Vamos Desistir is the one, a breathtaking combination of jazz and soulful electronica that sounds like it came from outer space. One can only guess what else this low-key crew of Brazilian artists has up their sleeve, or, for that matter, what ULYSSA will dig up next. Whatever it is, it's sure to be unexpected, valuable music that maybe only a few people realize exists.
01. Guerrinha - Flautas Cosentino
02. Pessoas Que Eu Conheço - Peço Desculpas Por Não Ter Ido A Sua Festa de Aniversario
03. seixlacK - Tele-Sexo
04. Kauan Marco - Simpsons
05. Sérgio - Hamburger
06. Repetentes 2008 - Campeonato Costeiro
07. Bad_Mix - Bye Bye São Paulo
08. Akira S - Honda San
09. Rebello - Reloginho Tic Tac
10. Brasileiro Garantido - BDQ011
11. Guerrinha - Torcida Pimenta Mexicana Groove
12. Pessoas Que Eu Conheço - Modelo WeChat
13. Kauan Marco - Fusion 2020
14. Dinheiro Infinito Revival - 119 BPM
15. Vamos Desistir - Almoço Com Meus J'adiros
16. Kauan Marco - Mc Parker
17. Epicentro do Bloquinho - Eduardo Zeller
18. Pessoas Que Eu Conheço - O Trem Para Hángzhōu
19. Principe De Montreal - Quinta Miragem
20. Guerrinha - Agropecuária Falcão