One of the most important, exciting and groundbreaking musical phenomena of the 1990’s was created at the beginning of the decade in Recife, Pernambuco. A relatively small group of musicians, with Chico Science (lead singer of the band Nação Zumbi) and Fred Zero Quatro (leader of the band Mundo Livre S/A) decided to mix the traditional music of the region, (mainly maracatu) with modern rock, samba, hip hop and electronica. Thet called the new music style “manguebeat”. “Mangue” means “mangrove forest”, a biotope that is commonly found in the coastal region of the Pernambuco state. It is said that the name manguebeat is an allusion, invented by Fred Zero Quatro, to the fact that the great biological diversity of the mangrove forest would be reflected in diversity of the manguebeat music.
On the face of it, the merger between traditional folk music from Pernambuco and several modern music genres may not sound like a “happy marrriage”. However, the result was a phenomenal sound and both Nação Zumbi and Mundo Livre S/A immediately made a huge splash on the Brazilian music scene. The mix was fresh, sounded like the 90’s and the raw energy and power of the two bands was inspiring. Although they belong to the same genre, Nação Zumbi and Mundo Livre S/A are two very different bands. Nação Zumbi has always had a more homogenous sound, where maracatu with its typical and heavy alfaia drum beat forms the musical base, which is often accompanied the sound of a set of powerful electric guitars, to create sort of a wall of sound. By comparison, Mundo Livre S/A’s sound is often based on samba, much softer and heterogeneous.
Nação Zumbi bursted on to the scene in 1994, with the fierce, furious and musically revolutionary album Da Lama ao Caos, which contained immortal classics like Bandidismo por Uma Questão the Classe, Da Lama ao Caos and Computadores Fazem Arte. The album turned Chico Science, with his enticing personal aura, powerful voice and obvious song writing talent, into the brightest shining new star within Brazilian music at the time. Not longa after the release of the band’s second album, Afrociberdelia, Chico Science was killed in February 1997, in a car accident in Recife. Most people tool for granted that this tragic event would also mean the end of Nação Zumbi as a band. Luckily, however, this was not at all the case, as Nação Zumbi survived against all odds and continued to regularly produce high-quality albums during the the following decades. The band's sound is basically the same as in the first two discs, although some adjustments have been made from Chico Sciences sharp voice and machine-gun fast verbosity, to new vocalist Jorge du Peixe slower and more drawling style.
Other influential bands and artists within the manguebeat genre are Mombojó, Cordel do Fogo Encantado and Otto. Cordel do Fogo Encantado is a band from the city Arcoverde in the Pernambuco inlands, who have drawn much inspiration from the northeast Brazilian folk poetry tradition known as Literatura de Cordel. Cordel do Fogo Encantado in front of his reciting lyrics to the snarling guitars and pounding rhythms Nordeste. The band is especially famous for producing spectacular and adrenaline inducing live performances.
Examples of manguebeat
Click to listen:
Da Lama ao Caos, Nação Zumbi, 1994
Meu Maracatu Pesa uma Tonelada, Nação Zumbi, 2002
Crua, Otto, 2009
Splash Shine, Mombojó, 2004
Alice Williams, Mundo Livre S/A, 1998
Cordel do Fogo Encantado, 2006
Minha Mulher, Otto, 2003
Computadores fazem arte,
Nação Zumbi, 1994