This is the sound of chaotic resistance to the bland world order of Coldplay and Coca-Cola. Whaa! is a subversive potion of dub featuring the Upsetter himself, Brazilian grooves, African borrowings and funky electronica
Artists as diverse as DJ Dolores, Ojos de Brujo, Manu Chao, Los de Abajo and Think of One among many others have responded to the new world order by taking the traditional and the deeply cherished and making it work on the dancefloor. Their response is pure tropicalismo and their audience is anyone who feels swindled by cheesy dance anthems and indie band retreads.
Throughout Zuco 103’s third album is the voice of Carioca Lilian Vieira, who growls sweetly one moment and warbles the next as she kicks of the album with the stomping sambatronica ‘Na Manguera’ — an ode to all those who dance and sing their way through the pain and petty humiliations of life. Just as easily she switches to a breezy bossa tone on the upbeat ‘Mayfly’ or a rapid-fire staccato delivery on ‘Gargantero’.
The Mad Professor himself, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry makes two appearances on the album. On the first and best, ‘Love is Queen Omega’, he demands freedom for the people and declaims, “Prince Charles is not free / Tony Blair is not free / Queen Elizabeth is not free / They are hiding something.” His enigmatic verbal scribblings on freedom, mysticism and his obsession with the British ruling classes are a perfect foil to Lilian Vieira’s voice and he seems perfectly at home a long way from dub. The second, ‘It’s A Woman’s World’ is a more clubbable affair, an infectious beat and a gentle warning to boorish men.
This theme of resistance to the politically, personal and sexually oppressive runs throughout most of the tracks, whether talking about domestic servitude on ‘Nhá’ or those “with a ‘small problem’ hanging under their bellybutton,” on the title track. The result is an album with accessible tunes and something to say.