It isn’t hyperbolic to describe Tecno Brega as having exploded onto the international scene. After years of only regional popularity in Brazil’s Amazonia region, it has recently gone through a period of intense growth, with artists (and Afropop favorites) such as Banda UO, Gang do Eletro, and Gaby Amarantos pushing the style towards an increasingly sleek and well-crafted form of dance pop, albeit one spiked with genre’s trademark rhythms and shameless love of sugar-coated, sugar-infused, sugar-constructed melodies.
Given the inscrutable product of this process of evolution- not to mention the difficulty in sorting through the almost-entirely gray market world in which Brega musicians work, figuring out exactly how the genre ended up sounding like it does is something of a challenge. Which is exactly why you should listen to this mixtape of tracks by Tonny Brasil. According to the consistently fantastic DJ João Brasil, who compiled the mix, Tonny was something of a godfather to modern brega, and so this mix offers a chance to peer into the music’s roots.
While the basic beat is essentially unchanged, the tempo is slower, and the tracks have yet to take on the hyper-kinetic rush that is one of the most distinctive aspects of their descendants. Along with (and perhaps as a result of) this difference, the tracks in the mix have a more organic feel- the synthesizers sound like more like keyboards played by humans then future-retro tones generated by computers, the drums seemingly connected (albeit slightly) to the dictates of a physical kit. It’s fascinating that in the push to the dancefloor, Tecno Brega seems to have accentuated its artificiality, casting itself as a music almost entirely divorced from non-neon reality. Listening to some of its history doesn’t lessen the impact of that aesthetic- but it does offer a sense of where it came from. Give it a listen, and tell us what you think!
For more Tecno Brega madness, check back here for an interview with Man Recording’s Daniel Haaksman- and a review of the label’s recent Brega Compilation!