Nacao Zumbi



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Since the early Nineties Nação Zumbi have rocked the underground music scene in Brazil. Alongside Chico Science, until his untimely and tragic death in a car accident in 1998, Nação Zumbi reinvented Brazilian music, creating the genre of Mangrove Beat (Mangue Beat). Their energy and vision has opened the floodgates for a host of new bands and thrust Brazilian music back onto the international stage. Almost a decade on, the pioneers of the new-wave are still the most exciting band to have emerged from Brazil since the tropicalists.

Nação Zumbi hail from Recife, Pernambuco, in the north-east of Brazil. The band’s debut album, Da Lama Ao Caos, began as a cult success, but by the time of their second album, Afrociberdelia, Nação Zumbi had reached a wider audience, both within Brazil and internationally. Their sound, a hybrid of maracatu, jungle, afro-beat, coco dub, ambient baião and funk won them fans as diverse as Goldie, David Byrne and Oasis.

Rádio S.amb.a. was the first album since the death of Chico Science. Unlike the Wailers or Nirvana, Nação Zumbi have survived the after shock of their founder’s death to produce new work of equal potency. For those who know the work of Nação Zumbi, they will see them drawing on elements of the first two albums, but this time with a more pervasive use of percussion. At the same time there is a new target: that most Brazilian of Brazilian rhythms, the samba. Nação Zumbi want to dissect the samba, to show it’s roots and explore it’s future, to sample it and mix it up. The song arrancando as tripas do samba literally means ‘ripping the guts out of the samba’ - but only in order to hear it better!

One also senses a maturing of Nação Zumbi. The sound is more focused, the band are at ease with themselves, confident enough to drop into chilled tropical grooves that contrast with the fierce percussive workouts fused with drum’n’bass. This is not an album for purists, but then Brazilian music is not a genre for purists. Five hundred years of cross-cultural pollination has made Brazil a rich tapestry on which Nação Zumbi weave another musical chapter.

The guest artists on Rádio S.amb.a. typify Nação Zumbi's constant research and integration of influences near and far. International guests include Afrika Bambaataa, connecting the “Zumbi Nation” (Zumbi was the leader of a short-lived independent state of rebel slaves within Brazil) with the Zulu Nation. Tortoise add a taste of their own distinctive post-millennium grooves. And, of course, the album would not be complete without a varied selection of guests from their homelands. Fred 04, co-founder of the mangrove beat and leader of the group mundo livre s/a, adds some class vocals to the track Antigamente. Lia de Itamaraca, a ciranda singer (ciranda being a folk genre originating in coastal villages) sees her words transformed in a way she could never have dreamed of.

The path of Nação Zumbi, like that of the mangrove swamps, spreads in all directions, taking in all in its way. Rádio S.amb.a.  was the next installment in this constantly evolving journey. After a tragic break in transmission, Nação Zumbi were broadcasting again, from the mangroves to the world. It’s about slime!

Nacao Zumbi recorded another album in 2003 on the Trama Label simply entitled 'Nacao Zumbi' which carries on their tradition of being known more as a musical style than as a band and as unwitting pioneers of just about the only new musical 'movement' from their Native Brazil. That sound was labeled Mangue Bit (later altered to 'Beat') - a modern computer bit reinvigorating the old-time grooves; the old and local fusing with the modern and global.

Nação Zumbi are cultural guerillas, a political collective yet free of political alliances.

S.AMB.A. – Serviço AMBulante da Afrociberdelia      

Nacao Zumbi toured Ireland in August 2001 and played at The Venue, Clonakilty & The Garavogue in Sligo. The management of The Garavogue remarked after the gig "..but no-one's ever danced in here before" and the manager of The Venue in Clonakilty said "I reckon that's the best rock band I ever heard". Whilst in Clonakilty the band were very pleased to meet long-time Clonakilty resident and ex 'Jimi Hendrix Experience bassist', Noel Redding. Nacao Zumbi were very much influenced by the music of Hendrix along with the 1980s London/Bristol underground dub scene, particularly material produced by the On U Sound System and by artists like African Headcharge and Gary Clail.


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Last modified: 02/23/11