Tom Hayes 10-Feb-2001 Lula Cortes y Ze Ramalho

Even for those insane collectors (including yours truly) who must hear every progressive rock obscurity, Lula Cortes y Ze Ramalho is an unknown name. Original copies disappeared in a great fire, producing an album that has to be considered one of the rarest of them all. While there are many bands who released albums in very small quantities and are now much sought after, many were only intended to be demos or for fans of the group. I bring this up because the Cortes album was very clearly made for a larger audience and serves as a metaphoric victim. This is not just another low budget obscurity, but a highly produced and brilliant effort. Perhaps someone will dare a CD issue, because once this music is heard by the masses, Lula Cortes will find its rightful place amongst the all time greats.

I had always imagined that Brazil in the early 1970's would produce a kind of uninhibited tribal psychedelic rock band that would rival the experimental wonders in Germany like Guru Guru or Amon Duul II. So after hearing plenty of rock and psych music from Brazil, I had given up on my dream until a tape of the double LP Lula Cortes Y Ze Ramalho literally showed up on my doorstep. Now I wonder how many others existed in Brazil but without a proper recording perhaps?

And the music? Are you ready for this? Imagine a direct cross of Swedish cosmic psychedelic pioneers Algarnas Tradgard and the progressive folk of Los Jaivas from Chile. Take the traditional instruments of the Mayans, Incans, and early Spanish settlers, and combine with unearthly chanting and singing, then mesh with jazzy elements like flute and sax. Now add a dash of classical with piano and zither. Shake three times and add a huge scoop of completely freaked out, free-from-boundaries electric fuzz guitar, organ, and psychedelic jamming. The result is the musical realization of a mescaline dance party. One has absolutely no idea what the music will do next, but rest assured it will be well-played, intense, imaginative, and emotional. How exciting it must've been to do music like this; each composition could be improvised in a number of ways every night. The combinations are endless. Music of this nature, like the album itself, is completely extinct.

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