Bento Arauho is a journalist, record collector, music archaeologist and the author of Lindo Sonho Delirante: 100 Psychedelic Records from Brazil. The book is a fully illustrated celebration of the inventive and mind-expanding records that changed Brazilian music forever. We asked Bento "Five Questions" about his "ultimate Brazilian psychedelic music guide.
Thank you! Yes, it was very hard to choose the 100 records that ended up in the book. My original concept was to choose records released from 1968 until today, but the amount of records was so huge that I had to stop in 1975. It’s funny, many people came to me asking: “Are there 100 psychedelic records in Brazil?” The best part of it is that I begin to think about a second Lindo Sonho Delirante volume, bringing records released from 1976 onwards. Many of these gems are very rare nowadays, but in the 1990s they were not so rare. Back then I worked in many record stores and got some of those albums, some as real bargains. Of course, being friends with many record collectors around the globe also helps a lot, so the albums I do not own they end up lending me or something.
Were you personally familiar with all of these titles before choosing, or did some pop up in your research and demanded to be included?
I was familiar with 90% of these records. The other 10% I discovered during my research, which was very cool and surprising. I've written about music for 20 years and I spend a lot of time on it, but let’s face it, we will never know everything about rare records. There will always be obscure acts and albums from the past popping up, which is really amazing
These are psychedelic records, but Tropicalia sprung from an anarchistic, anti-authoritarian expression, correct? How did these records reconcile that with the peace and love philosophy of psychedelia?
Awesome question! That's why I usually say, and I don’t want to sound cocky or smug here, but the Brazilian psychedelic rock is unique and with a very peculiar feeling. I understand that each country had its own musical scene, influenced by politics and the social landscape of each period of time. But in Brazil’s case, Tropicalia and the Sgt. Pepper’s influence exploded in 1968, precisely the same year when our military government implemented its most bloody and repressive laws and decrees. So it was natural that the Tropicalia and psychedelic movement had an anti-authoritarian and anarchist stance. They were anarchists, for sure, but very well-organized ones. They acted as sort of strategists for our counterculture. The peace and love motto was part of the young idealism of those times, but our reality down here in Brazil was very hostile, especially for those who were involved with music and art. All of this influenced the records contained in the book, and many of them mix this hippie utopia with the urgency and despair of a young generation choked by the authorities.
Let’s talk about the artwork, as there’s quite the cross-section of styles represented here. You mention it factored a bit in choosing this collection; how big of an influence was the cover art, and how was it considered?
For me, the term "psychedelic" also defines the will to break the rules within the artistic field. Whether they are imposed by the system, by social prejudice, or by your own way of thinking. In Brazil at that time, some artists sought to break the rules and all barriers, not only with their music, but also through the artwork of their albums - it was a complete package. A case that exemplifies well all of this is the eponymous album of Jorge Ben, from 1969, where he appears with his broken shackles at the cover. It is not an entirely "psychedelic" album in the most orthodox and musical sense of the term, but everything comes packed in a stunning cover, totally lysergic and with Brazilian motifs all over (designed by the painter and artist Albery Seixas da Cunha). So the artwork was considered in some of my choices. A psychedelic record sleeve sometimes gave that extra push to a not entirely psych album.
Lastly, can you give us a couple of your desert island discs? If you can only choose one of the records in your book, which are you taking, and why? How about from the larger, worldwide psychedelic music period?
For the importance and projection outside Brazil of the Brazilian psychedelic music, I should choose the first Mutantes album, Os Mutantes, released in 1968, an album idolized by guys like Kurt Cobain, Sean Lennon, David Byrne, Beck among others. However, I like to think that the most outrageous and extreme Brazilian psych music moment happened with Paêbirú: Caminho da Montanha do Sol, the mystic double album released by Lula Côrtes and Zé Ramalho in 1975. So if I could only choose one, it would be Paêbirú.
Speaking on a global level, my top five psychedelic albums are:
Electric Music for the Mind and Body by Country Joe & The Fish, 1967
Forever Changes by Love, 1967
C.Q. by The Outsiders, 1968
Odessey and Oracle by The Zombies, 1968
Virgin by Traffic Sound, 1970.
#fivequestions #bentoaraujo #brazil #brazilianmusic #psychedelic #psychedelicrecors @lindosonhodelirante