Various Artists - Brazilian Beats 'n' Pieces
The Brazilian Beats series is independent label Mr Bongo's vehicle for introducing Western audiences to the tunes that rock a country more widely known for the skills of its footballers than its musicians. The eighth release in the series is its first cut-and-paste compilation, featuring two-times UK DMC finalist Phat Kev mixing up the choicest tracks from its previous selections.
The DJ takes the opportunity to explore a variety of different genres, taking in the acoustic meanderings of Rosinha da Valenca, Trio Esperanca's engaging neo-soul and the funky, laid-back rhythms of Skowa and Mafia. Elewhere, the wiry organs and mid-tempo brass of Boogaloo Combo's Hot Pants Road are a winning combination, and revisited at the end of the album thanks to Kev's enjoyable re-edit. Ivo Meirelles & Funk 'n' Lata's Baile Funk Medley is another treat, sandwiched between two quite different versions of the track Take It Easy My Brother Charlie,with Som Tres's slick, slow-burning interpretation proving an interesting contrast to Jorge Ben's original and proving a perfect end to the CD.
That 30 cuts are shoehorned into an album that lasts less than an hour without it ever feeling bloated or overpowering is a commendable achievement. The flip side of that though is that some of the tracks can seem to come and go without making a real impact, which can jar a little when you're starting to enjoy a piece only for it to be sacrificed for the sake of a bearable runtime. Overall, this is an enjoyable, skilfully-produced record that's well worth a purchase if you're in the mood to give a chance to something a little different.