Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Lula Cortez e ze Ramahlo

Released 1976 on Solar
Reviewed by gogmagog, 26/09/2007ce

The Latin American take on Wegmuller's TAROT? The orchestrations to be found inside Alejandro Jodorwosky's brain? A musical re-telling of the formation of the Cosmos? Lula Cortez and Ze Ramalho's massive mid-seventies double-LP is all the above and more, and as such deserves an in-depth treatment. This huge exploratory LP combines Latin traditional music, free-jazz, free-folk, and psychedelia (in fact, just put free- in front of everything for this massive chunk of hallucinatory, mystical arcana.

I first come across this a good seven or so years ago through a small article in Record Collector which pronounced it, not just a lost classic, but the rarest vinyl Lp to come out of South America (and believe me not many did). Due to a warehouse fire at record label Solar's storage facilites, around 700 out of the original 1000 pressed were destroyed, and the original now frequently pulls in over a thousand quid (be careful of bootlegs).

Released on CD by Shadoks Music where does one start with this true monster? Like all the great seventies kosmiche LPs these two multi-instru-MENTALISTS take as their muse CREATION ITSELF!! Easily filed away with such other ancient rumble-athons as the aformentioned TAROT, Sergius Golowin's MUSIC VON GOLOKA (more of which later) and Code 3's exploratory PLANET OF MAN (see my previous HH review) the great thing about PAEBIRU is that it doesn't try to re-tell the story of creation as much as RECREATE it sonically (and there's a big, big difference).

Pitched somewhere between the tropicalia and psych-jazz of Latin America and experimental German Kosmiche music, there is truly something for eveyone here and the LP is perhaps best explained sonically rather than me try to grasp for vague blanket descriptions, such are its wonderful vagaries. Split into 4 movements across four side each with their own element (yes, its that sort of trip), the first side Terra (Earth) begins such:

"Trilha de Sume" (6:30) begins the side in an ancient mood, gentle flutes serenade while a strange mouth instrument buzzes about (some sort of jew's harp), until a chanted spanish vocal begins the ritual. The flute sound puts me immediately in mind of the Golowin Lp, as echoed, wooden percussion bangs away in the next room - and the gentle folk melody is taken over by abstract vocals -"adeddedledeldedeedely", until the chant returns once more. The vibe is ancient, although electric bass came be heard rumbling around in the background. Six minutes in to this adam-and-eve-adelic bliss and a free jazz trumpet "ornette's" the proceedings to an end.

Mass percussion of the Amon Duul variety (these cats must have been conversant with the kosmiche scene) begins "Culto A Terra" (Earth Cult) and things get down an dirty experimental as ritualistic grunts and chants perform in some ancient hoedown - like something out of a Jodorowsky film - only to be joined by a massive free-rock guitar and blown bass trumpet - then things get very kraut-folk - as a rumbling piano brings in the very friendly, blissful kraut-folk strum-along you might find on a Witthuser and Westrupp LP - or most other Pilz acts come to mind. This is the last song of the Terra movement: "Ballado das Mascarias" and ends things in a very peaceful frame of mind.

The next movement Ar (Air) begins side two with "Harpa Dos Ares" - a harp plays classical Bach-like arppegios, and things get a bit Air on a G String for a bit, but the bull-frogs and ancient mammalia of South America can still be heard sqwauking away in the background - lost children calling to their parents, and bird-calls remind us of more peaceful times - (in fact, its a little mawkish tell you the truth). But the idyllic atmosphere soon decends into darkness for the seven minute free-rock of "Nao Existe Molhado Igual Ao Pranto" - a lonesome vocal growls and the free-form acoustics flitter across the stereoband, again the vibe is strangely reminiscent of the Golowin LP - huge saxophones and giant flutes (no seriously, check the photos) get all ornette again, and the vibe has defintely turned to the dark side. Imagine Tricky if he had been a mid-seventies, Latin-Amercian free-everything musician. More vocal chants and crying babies - could this be the Latin American Battiato even. However, never once do you feel tired of the musical journey, the two musicians (much repsected in South America) always know when to move on - the whole thing coming across like some psycho-geographic trip through ancient territiories.

Mad laughter ends this darkest of trips and the six minute "Omm" begins in peaceful, if still wary, minor chord mood, acoustics circle and another low-growl of affected vocal tunes in - a creepy cinematic feel - a low sax taking up the narrative - a little similar to the "Far Out" LP maybe with the exotic percussion and stroked acoustics - or the beginnings of those great Ash Ra tempel sides. But most of all, and I know I keep mentioning it - their is a strong resemblence to the first track from the Golowin LP, massed acoustics and tinkled pianos emerge and I'm amazed Sergius and the Jokers weren't on the phone come 76', as this track continues. kicking off! But its a portentous end to the side as stentorian pianos march out a series of notes that are obviosuly of some cosmic import, as massed string-driven-things are swiped again and again.

All of a sudden were into the Fogo movement "Fire" and guess what, yes, hugely fuzzed electric guitars are wiped-out in situ - Jimi-like, esp. the "Killing Floor" and "Machine Gun" solos as played in a time-warped, sub-atomic pressure-cooker - the notes just keep coming as a jaunty acoustic backing keeps up some pretence of structure. This is "Raga Dos Raios" and two to three minutes in, it just dissolves into a funky as (hell, this must be on a sample record somewhere) drumbeat and a great little pop-number erupts - all fuzzed-up farfisa organs and straight ahead bass - in fact, it sounds rather strange in its surroundings, but I guess they had to reference the tropicalia movement at some point. But this sounds like a whacked out Pere-Ubu type take on it. Oh, there are vocals as well, and I'm wondering if "Nas Paredes Da Pedra Encantada" wasn't their big single - a pop-sike sing-along with organs courtesy of The Muppets, and a motorik-driven drum'n'bass drive. That said the song is 7 minutes long!! "Maracas De Fogo" (Fire Maraccas maybe?) begins with erm...maraccas and is madly mixed about 30 decibels below the rest of the LP for some reasons - too much ayahuasca??

Anyway, we are on the home straight and into the last Movement/Side Agua (Water) which these two mavericks begin with an African-flavoured chant and bongoes, called "Louvacao A Iemenja" then into perhaps my favourite track - A rush of water and "Regato Da Montanba" lets rip with a beautiful fuzzed guitar solo that trails the peaks - reminding one of Agitation Free in particular (around "2nd"). The track is one long solo with hypnotic percussion and plangent acoustics glistening underneath and merging with the river effects - a true meditational tool.
"Beira Mar" is a Latin "Black Mountian Side" - a Davy Graham-like ride with great mandolins and other sundry acoustics jumping and diving around the melody - a bowed Indian-raga - again too short for its own good, but the madcap, spanish jugband vibe has to return for "Pedra Templo Animal" - a drunken singalong with cooing female vocals and hynotic bass. In fact, if you were to isolate the bass tarcks of this whole LP you would still have an ancient ritualsitic tool at your very hands. Last Track and this great LP returns, its circularity secure (like all great rituals) to another version of "Trila de sume" which opened the Lp - one of the most beautiful acoustic laments I have ever heard - it could have soundtracked the last chapter of Homer's The Odyssey - such is its wearisome quality - absolutely perfect.

And thats that! There is something for everyone in "Paebiru" - Its a massive musical journey to undertake - and I think its one of the most important musical documents to emerge (albeit in some rather charred copies) from South America. I'm sure some of you know this LP - although I was surprised there wasn't a review up. And anyone interested in experimental "musics of the world" from the 70s needs to hear this.

[News Just in: This Lp has been released again this month on Mr Bongo - don't Miss Out!!]

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