DJ Dolores, aka Helder Aragão, is like a one-man tropicalismo movement for the 21st century. Ska, drum and bass, traditional emboladas, brega, klezmer and a large dollop of hip hop sensibility are just a few of the pots that DJ Dolores rifles through for his unique sound.
Recife (pronounced hes-ee-fay) on the North East coast of Brazil is home to this musical mestizo. Recife folk will tell you that they have the best music and the best Carnaval (even better than Bahia’s), while I’d love to test that theory out, it is certainly true that there is a lot more going on there on both a traditional and contemporary level than most people realise.
DJ Dolores first came to international attention a couple of years ago with the release of Contraditório. And last year, thanks to that album, he walked away with the BBC World Music Award for the ‘Club Global’ category.
Interestingly, he has a penchant for live bands and real instruments despite making music that is more often assembled than played and it is this quality (along with the impressive musicological content of his work) that marks him out a long way from many in the global beats category.
Aparelhagem (slang for sound system) is also the name of his new band and it features the very impressive lead singer Isaar, with DJ Dolores on laptop and turntables plus musicians playing guitars, percussion, saxes, trumpets, violins, trombones and even a tuba courtesy of guests: Orquestra Popular da Bomba do Hermetério. DJ Dolores also designed the cover himself being a former designer, TV producer and all-round creative clever clogs.
In all the textured cleverness of the music, there is always a strand of simple beauty. It might be a simple snare pattern or quite often the beautiful voice of Isaar. I think it is this trick of finding beauty and making the complicated sound simple that has marked Brazilian music out from the bossa boom through to today as unique and it is the quality that musicians from around the world are always trying to fathom.
A perfect example of this comes on the second track, ‘Trancelim de Marlin’ (Ivory Necklace). Samba elements are given a hip hop treatment with jazzy horns but what you keep coming back to is that voice. A voice as sweet as ripe mango eaten in the shade of the tree you picked it from, peeled by someone who adores you and whom you adore. The lyrics tell you that Carnaval love affairs rarely outlast the dancing but you hear that voice and it seems a good enough reason to fall in love even if it is for a short while.
Just as intoxicating is ‘Ciranda de Madrugada’. Dubbed out Northern Brazillian fisherman’s music or Massive Attack reinterprets Clara Nunes.
Aparelhagem is full of tracks like these and I’d say that this release marks a coming of age after only two albums for a musical force who could be the South American Manu Chao.
Aparelhagem (ZIR 19) is released on Crammed Discs’ Ziriguiboom Label on March 28th, 2005 and DJ Dolores and full band played the Jazz Café in London on March 30th, we have exclusive pictures from the DJ Dolores gig.
Crammed has its own Blog, which we find very cool…