There have been small music revolutions everywhere although not many were aware of them. This tale is about one of these moments in Brazil where we've seen great inventive music and artists slowly get forgotten and then overlooked from our general pop history. So flashback 25 years ago and enter São Paulo, Brazil's greyest megalopolis, always in constant change and growth. São Paulo is best known as the largest South American city with a massive population of approximately 20 million people from all parts of the country. It is made up with second generations of immigrants from Italy, Spain, Lebanon, Japan (the largest Japanese community outside Japan), Portugal, France, Africa, Israel and so on. Amongst its skyscrapers, large avenues and terrible traffic jams, a bunch of like minded music enthusiasts in their 20's & 30's from middle class backgrounds got together to start their own thing in their own terms.
This compilation introduces you to some of our favourite moments of the São Paulo's underground post-punk scene from the 80's. It presents some of the city's greatest acts of the time such as As Mercenárias, Patife Band, Akira S e As Garotas Que Erraram Gang 90 e As Absurdettes, Chance, Fellini, Smack to name a few of the artists featured here. It consists of a period of time that spans from its beginning in 1980 to 1988.


Our post punk scene represents more or less Brazil's musical answer to other well-known similar moments in pop history. That is to say, the No Wave downtown scene from New York of bands such as Arto Lindsay's DNA, The Contortions, ESG and England's Post Punk scene of groups like Gang of Four, The Pop Group and A Certain Ratio, which were definitely great influences on most of the artists featured in this compilation. Therefore you might read our story as part of the same Zeitgeist, however with a slightly ironic left-wing nihilistic tropical take, if I may put it this way, which back then in the 80's was a common feature to most of São Paulo’s artists, their discourses and their music. Other similarities include a compilation entitled Não São Paulo made 7 years later after the legendary Brian Eno’s ‘No New York’. This was São Paulo’s first attempt to map some of the city’s great underground actions at the time.
‘Hell has got 1000 entrances’ sang scenester Pedreira Antunes from Akira S e As Garotas Que Erraram on the amazing bass-driven punk funk Sobre As Pernas. And hell was all over our concrete jungle, down to Rua Augusta through Xavier de Toledo up to Barão de Itapetininga's Mappin department store. Through São Paulo's late night bars, pizzerias and restaurants to its sexy street prostitutes and transvestites. Hell flowed through its sweaty mixed saunas to its brothels, drive-ins, parks and cheap motels. The inferno was everywhere. Likewise, in another part of town, one of São Paulo's most outstanding all-girls outfit ever, As Mercenárias shouted Panic at full volume as Rosália Munhoz and Sandra Coutinho harmonised beautifully in small clubs. The city kept collapsing through their lines.

Yet Cadão Volpato sang that 'everything was a mere question of money' on Rock Europeu, one of Fellini's catchiest tunes. His caustic and defensive comments on the wild necessity to consume international music was full of bittersweet irony and became a micro hit around São Paulo’s underground of the mid 80’s. At that time Brazil was living through a restricted period in which it wasn’t that easy to get imports into the country. Therefore, not every youngster would have access to new records produced outside Brazil. Some would say, and I personally share this opinion, that such difficulties contributed to truly liberate some of our acts to find their own identity. In other words, it was all about the city, its internal politics and a great deal of aesthetics. Needless to say that over there we were all misfits under the sun, therefore also tourists at home! Here are some facts.


‘Yesterday night I dreamed I was Jack Keroac’

The story of São Paulo’s underground dates back from the early 80’s and owes a lot to pop militant, poet, lead singer, DJ and full-time dreamer Julio Barroso and his Gang 90 & As Absurdettes.

Julio was a larger than life character, a die-hard fan of black music who was also a ‘living bible’ of Brazilian popular music and a great admirer of acts such as Kid Creolle & The Coconuts, B52's and Pere Ubu. After living for some time in New York, by the late 70's where he worked as a barman, Julio used to check out the No Wave scene via Arto Lindsay. Back to São Paulo in the early 80's with a bag full of brand new records for the opening of Paulicéia Desvairada, São Paulo's first new wave club run by pop journalist Nelson Mota and entrepreneur Ricardo Amaral, he formed Gang 90.

The band made its debut at the club and some time later in 1981, they recorded Perdidos Na Selva (Lost in The Jungle), a 7 inch single for Nelson Mota's label Hot. Perdidos Na Selva was written in collaboration with pop maverick Guilherme Arantes and amazingly it became a hit around Brazil due to Gang 90’s participation at MPB Shell Festival and their unexpected nomination to be amongst the finalists of the contest. Gang 90 e As Absurdettes were made up of Julio Barroso on vocals, his loyal local divas May East, Alice Pink Pank, Lolita Renaux and Luiza Maria on backing vocals, including young musicians such as Gigante Brasil on drums, Lee Marcutti (formerly of Tutti Frutti) on bass, Wander Taffo on guitars and Guilherme Arantes on keyboards. Their B-side brought a funny version of 'Christine' of British outfit Siouxsie and The Banshees named Liliki Lamê. Gang 90 had dozens of different line-ups and would bring together a number of local musicians and pre-scenesters during their period of activity. Moreover the band was an extremely fashion-conscious outfit and served as a platform for Julio's advocacy of the concept of Antropophagy (our idea of cultural cannibalism as a positive force for transformation in the arts, in other words, our way of 'eating' from other cultures to produce new work). His moves were felt strongly in the scene and like the Tropicalists in the late 60’s, Gang 90 were ready to devour new information wherever it came from.

However, there was something about São Paulo's acts that made their music sound unexpected to the rest of the country. Sonically speaking, São Paulo's groups used to be much more urban, darker and spookier than their laid back peers from Rio de Janeiro -Cariocas. On the other hand, the Cariocas were already doing the 'beach new wave' sound of Rio, which back in the early 80’s, dominated the whole country. Every Brazilian teenager would know by heart every single tune from Rio's outfits such as Blitz, Kid Abelha e Os Abóboras Selvagens, Barão Vermelho, Sempre Livre, Neuzinha Brizola amongst many others. Not to mention that Rio's bands were all signed to major record labels and had their first albums released with a good distribution around the country. São Paulo’s acts formed the independent side of this industry.

Fortunately, Gang 90 e as Absurdettes ended up getting signed to a major record label too. By 1983, they had a delicious tropical new wave hit around Brazil named Louco Amor (Crazy love), thanks to its insertion on the opening of an 8 o'clock soap opera which shared the same title of the Gang's track. This meant being played every day for about one year to millions & millions of Brazilians through TV Globo, the epitome of the country's mainstream. But the truth was that Julio wanted both sides of the cake. He wanted his cult status intact at the same time he wanted Gang 90 to achieve his ultra popular aspirations. In 1983, Gang 90 & As Absurdettes released their first LP Essa Tal de Gang 90 to great critical success but they didn't sell a lot like their counterpart new wave outfit Blitz from Rio. Sadly, in 1984 Julio was found dead in front of his building. He fell down from the 8th floor from his apartment flat in Santa Cecilia in the centre of São Paulo. From then on, his influence would echo around São Paulo’s second and third waves of post-punkers.


By the early 80's, the underground of São Paulo had already distinct sound manifestations. It worked pretty much through three different moments. On one side, we had an arty avant-garde new MPB (Brazilian Popular Music) moment named Vanguarda Paulista. This scene was comprised of artists such as Arrigo Barnabé, the late 'Nêgo Dito' Itamar Assunção, Rumo, Língua de Trapo, Premeditando o Breque, Tetê Espíndola amongst its leading exponents. This group of people was pretty much interested in renewing the old MPB by injecting tons of atonal structures, spoken word narratives, theatrical vocals and mashing up old school samba, marginal poetry, folk music and beautiful complex orchestrations. Arrigo Barnabé and his seminal atonal opera Clara Crocodilo as well as the amazing Beleleu Leleu eu by Itamar Assumpção were certainly the greatest examples of this scene.
Running parallel, there was a bunch of great nervous and shouty suburban punk rock mayhem going on. By the late 70's and early 80's, inflation in the country was running over 100% and Brazil had about 5 million people unemployed. In the middle of this scenario acts such as Cólera, Lixomania, Garotos Podres, Inocentes, Olho Seco, Condutores de Cadáver to name only a few, were writing their own story around the city. These bands were extremely dissatisfied with the paths Brazilian music was taking and despised to death our 'Caetanos', 'Gilberto Gils' and the rest of the well-behaved MPB of the 80's.
Lastly, we had the beginning of the São Paulo underground post-punk scene with its very first acts such as Gang 90 & As Absurdettes, followed by two great obscure electronic outfits named Agentss and Azul 29 and finally the left-wing politics of Os Voluntários Da Pátria. After them, the post punk moment was open and we would see countless bands spring up around town. The two next waves of groups included acts such as As Mercenárias, Titãs, Zero, Muzak, RPM, Ultraje a Rigor, Akira S e As Garotas Que Erraram, Fellini, IRA! Smack, Patife Band, Nau, Gueto, amongst the groups who helped to solidify the São Paulo post punk scene as a proper moment. Their music was influenced by their counterparts in Europe and US and brought a healthy mix of politics and aesthetics together. Likewise, some of these bands looked back to Brazil's past radical moments mainly through the eyes of other marginalised experimentalists such as Arnaldo Baptista, Tom Zé and Walter Franco. The post punk acts of São Paulo were somewhere in between the angry punk scene and the avant pop and political ‘discourse’ of the art departments from USP (University of São Paulo). It is also worth noticing that there was quite a mixture of middle class art students with working class boys and girls playing in different bands.


This period marks the beginning of the city's mythical iconoclastic post punk underground era and it represents Brazil's first actions towards an alternative local system of shows that culminated in one of the first independent record labels, the now legendary Baratos Afins Discos. Run by pharmacist and music enthusiast Luis Carlos Calanca, Baratos Afins worked out of a small record shop located at the Grandes Galerias Shopping Centre in Downtown São Paulo at Rua 24 de Maio. The label still exists and operates from the same place. Luis Carlos helped to reveal a great deal of the new sound of São Paulo at the time.

By 1983, Baratos Afins had its first release out. Strangely enough, it was a radical solo experimental work by the ex Os Mutantes' Arnaldo Baptista named Singing Alone. The album was released one year after Arnaldo's accident in 1982 when he had thrown himself out of a window from a mental hospital and had the left side of his brain paralysed. Arnaldo broke seven ribs, had a cerebral oedema and remained in coma for 2 months. His wife Suzana Braga looked for Luis Carlos to release Arnaldo's album that none of the other major labels wanted. Luis had produced his Shine Alone concert a few months earlier and immediately accepted the proposal. He put the record out and that was the beginning of Baratos Afins amazing output. From then on the label would become the crème de la crème of São Paulo's underground music in the 80's as well as one of the greatest pieces for promotion and development of the scene's artists. Most of the acts in this compilation had their albums released on Baratos Afins. Their roster includes As Mercenárias, Fellini, Akira S e as Garotas Que Erraram, Chance, Muzak, Nau and Smack. The other bands featured here either had their albums on other small labels from São Paulo such as Harry on Wop Bop and Cabine C on RPM Discos or had their music released on majors which is the case of Patife Band and Gueto that signed to WEA, and GANG 90 & AS ABURDETTES on BMG.


Another aspect of São Paulo's post punk underground was its communal characteristics. Most of the bands here shared at least one member in common on their line up. There was an incredible rotation of instrumentalists and bands were formed all the time. Sandra Coutinho from As Mercenárias would play bass and sing for Smack. Thomas Pappon played drums on Smack but would also play guitar, bass and programme the drum machine for Fellini. Anna Ruth would play bass for Akira S e As Garotas que Erraram and later on would join Cabine C. Edson X, who was the drummer for Gueto, would also play on Akira S and so on. Not to mention guitarist Edgard Scandurra from Smack who played with practically all acts from the circuit at some point before he finally set as a fixed member of IRA!.
The bands were also up to play on every single stage in town. Our venues were most of the time delicious crap demi-monde old warehouses with poor sound systems and small stages by the dance floors. These venues were peopled with like-minded youngsters and local underground celebrities. Napalm, Madame Satã, Hong Kong, Carbono 14, Ácido Plástico, Rose Bom Bom, Retrô, Centro Cultural SP, Val Improviso to name a few places, were all crucial to mythologise São Paulo's post punk actions to the rest of Brazil. They represented São Paulo's infamous clubs, quasi-brothels, boites, cabarets and art centres that everybody wanted to visit. Moreover, most of these spaces dedicated their programme to the local bands and throughout the 80's every single band of this compilation have played one of these venues at least once.
In addition, there was the new pop journalism being practised by the Folha De São Paulo 's cultural pages. By the mid 80's, The Folha De São Paulo had become the most powerful newspaper of the country and used to cover the scene’s moves. Not to mention Bizz, São Paulo-based music-mag with a big distribution around Brazil, which for better or for worse, had a number of members of the underground bands working as music editors or collaborators. Later on, by the mid 80's, we would see Alex Antunes aka Pedreira Antunes of Akira S, Thomas Pappon of Fellini and José Augusto Lemos of Chance to name a few names, become music writers too. In other words, there was an image of São Paulo's underground music scene being carefully produced to the rest of Brazil. No matter if these bands weren’t really famous around the country. São Paulo was the ultimate violent monstrous third-world urban hell surrounded by skyscrapers, bridges, favelas, traffic jams. It was a depressive rainy tropical blade runner kind of city that slowly took over the country's imagination with bands that were in search of an original sound.


'‘Panic! You don't know who your enemy is, you're completely lost…’
As Mercenárias were the greatest all-female São Paulo's outfit from the 80's. They were made up of Rosália Munhoz on vocals, Sandra Coutinho on bass and vocals, Ana on guitars and Lou on Drums. They were also one of the tightest live bands I've ever seen. They released two extraordinarily good albums Cadê As Armas? (Where are the Guns?) on Baratos Afins and Trashland on major Odeon. Their amazing micro songs worked pretty much as mini-manifests of individual and collective resistances. For this compilation we chose Inimigo (Enemy), and Pânico (Panic), two pieces of furious punk/new wave, fantastically delivered by Rosália on lead vocals and Sandra and Ana on backing vocals. AKIRA S E AS GAROTAS QUE ERRARAM
‘The Inferno has got a thousand entries, some are tourist points…’
Akira S E As Garotas Que Erraram were a conceptual outfit made up of Brazilian/Japanese maverick Akira S on bass and programming, writer and activist Pedreira Antunes (formerly Número 2) on vocals and lyrics, Ana Ruth on bass, Corina on keyboards and Edson X on drums. Their music had a punk funk disco feel with great half spoken, half sung vocals. The tracks we chose are the amazing 'Sobre as Pernas', a groovy spoken-word piece on life as hell in the city and their punk funk meets free jazz interlude Swing Basses Series I (Eu Dirijo O Carro Bomba).

'‘You cannot imagine what you didn’t know...’
Fellini was one the most notorious São Paulo underground acts from the mid-80's. They recorded some of the greatest lo-fi albums of the period. Fellini was made up of journalist Cadão Volpato on vocals and multi-instrumentalist and journalist Thomas Pappon (also from Smack and formerly of Voluntários da Pátria) plus Ricardo Salvagni and Jayr Marcos. They fused European post punk influences with electro bossa, drum machine patterns and synths. We chose their ironic comment on European music taken from their first album O Adeus De Fellini from 1985 and the amazing lo-fi baião Zum Zum Zum Zazoeira taken from their third album Três Lugares Diferentes from 1987. Fellini released 5 albums, 3 on Baratos Afins, and 1 on Wop Bop and one on Rio de Janeiro's independent label Midsummer Madness Records.

‘Morro, morro cedo… I’ll die early…’
Chance was one of the spookiest outfits from São Paulo's underground post punk scene. Unfortunately Chance didn't record an LP but they did produce one of the most beautiful and emblematic dark sambas of the time. We proudly included Samba do Morro, their dubious atmospheric Casio-driven electro samba, sung wonderfully by velvet voiced Marcinha here. We also chose O Striptease de Madame X which is a slow spoken word piece surrounded by stylish Debussy-like piano phrases. Both tracks were taken from the seminal compilation Não São Paulo released on Baratos Afins in 1985. Chance was made up of pop journalist and Bizz Magazine editor José Augusto Lemos aka Scot on strings, computer, voice and percussion, Nena on piano and keyboards and Marcinha on vocals. They performed only a few times. Either they were all too drunk to make it or their equipment would always crash. I happened to see two of their performances and fell in love with their vocalist.

'‘Get away from here, get away from me…’
Smack shared members from several other outfits. They were made up of Sandra Coutinho from As Mercenárias on bass and backing vocals, Thomas Pappon from Fellini on drums, Edgard Scandurra from IRA! on guitar and vocals and Sergio Pamplona aka Pamps on lead vocals and guitar. Smack had a dense melancholic dirty guitar-driven sound. Their music was punctuated by amazing occasional dissonances and great bass lines and backing vocals. They released two albums Smack Ao Vivo No Mosh and Noite e Dia both on Baratos Afins. Fora Daqui and Mediocridade Afinal are two of their best angular dirty rocks.

‘'You do everything for your baby…’
Patife Band was this incredible four-piece outfit led by composer Paulo Barnabé (formerly of Sabor de Veneno). Held as one of the first Brazilian dodecaphonic punk funk outfits, Patife Band's music is highly rhythmic, full of atonal phrases, aggressive punk vocals and occasional cheese chants and melodies. Poema Em Linha Reta was made in collaboration with Paulo's brother Arrigo Barnabé, who back in the early 80' was another central composer for the Vanguarda Paulista moment. We also chose Teu Bem, a sexy, ironic and nihilistic tale of love with a great guitar riff. Both tracks were taken from their second album Corredor Polonês.

''Psychedelic butterfly ... psychedelic butterfly'
Gueto was a four-piece outfit from the north zone of São Paulo. Their music incorporated hip hop, Brazilian traditional rhythms such as baião and samba with post punk elements. They were made up of Júlio Cesar on vocals, Edson X (formerly of Akira S e As Garotas Que Erraram) on drums, Marcio on guitar and Marcola on bass. Their first album Estação Primeira was recorded in 1987 on WEA to great local success. We chose their punk funk hit Borboleta Psicodélica.

'‘You have gone wrong’
Harry was born in 1985 in Santos, Latin America's largest seaport city, 10 miles away from Cubatão, one of the most polluted regions on earth. They had a number of different line ups along its trajectory and initially had Hansen on guitars and vocals, Cesar Di Giacomo on drums and the late Renato Grillo on bass. In 1986 Denise Tesluki joined the band and Harry releases their first experimental EP Harry on Wop Bop produced by Roberto Verta who later would become Harry’s member. With Denise's departure and the arrival of Verta as a member, the band intensified the electro elements into their sound by bringing a Poly 800 along drum machines, sequencers and samplers to their music. By 1987 Harry turns itself into an electronic act and in 1998 they released a locally acclaimed album all sung in English named Fairy Tales with plenty of synthpop tunes and minimalist influences. Here Harry is represented by Hasen's Kraftwerk-driven tune You Have Gone Wrong.

'Urban Island!'
Muzak was made up of Osmar on bass and vocals, Nivaldo on guitar and Vitor on drums. They released an EP on EMI in 1986 and had micro hit called Onde Estou? We chose their nervous post punk anthem Ilha Urbana taken from Não São Paulo. ‘Ilha Urbana’ is one of their greatest tracks with hysterical minimalist guitars and dark vocals.

'‘Our love is here, far and near from us’
Cabine was a dark wave outfit led by poet Ciro Pessoa (formerly of Titãs) with Marinella Setti on drums and vocals, Anna Ruth on bass and backing vocals and Wania Forghiere on keyboards and backing vocals. Here we chose Tão Perto, a tale of love and loss with atmospheric guitars by Fernando Deluki (formerly of RPM) taken from their LP Fósforos de Oxford.

' 'I know how the stars are treating you'
Nau was a four piece comprised of Vange Leonel on vocals, Zique on guitars, Beto Birger on bass and Mauro Sanches on drums, formed in the mid 80's. They recorded a rock & roll driven LP for major CBS in 1986 and disbanded in 1989 when Vange Leonel went solo. Madame Oráculo was taken from Baratos Afins' compilation Não São Paulo II.

***** ***** ***** ******
Most of the bands in this compilation are not in activity anymore. However, many of their members are still involved with great musical projects. We are proud that 20 years later Soul Jazz Records happened to hear a special programme we made for our Slum Dunk radio show on Resonance Fm about the underground post punk scene of São Paulo in the 80's and put together this compilation.
This is only a small part of countless similar overlooked moments Brazil's pop history has gone through. Other acts from cities like Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, Curitiba definitely shared similar periods and produced a great deal of very unexpected music too.
We hope you enjoy this bit of the story…

Bruno Verner, London - Dec 2004.

Compiled by Bruno Verner & Eliete Mejorado (Tetine/Slum Dunk Radio Crew)