Album Review: Sociedade Recreativa – Sociativa [Jarring Effects; February 2019]

Sociativa (Jarring Effects) is a punchy, electronic and beat-heavy rendition of older Brazilian pieces (mostly from North East Brazil) which have been remade for a modern audience. Definitely made for sub-woofers and loudspeakers, the heavy bass frequencies interact with traditional styles in an exciting fashion. Sociedade Recreativa is a collaboration between the French/Brazilian band Forró de Rebeca and producer Maga Bo. From the start, its bouncy rhythms, energetic vocals and love for both old and new music are enchanting. Rap, electronica, samba, capoeira, candomblé, dub, reggae, jongo are all cleverly used as musical forms from piece to piece.

The record is fun from the outset with ‘Embola Pedra’, a song that fuses baião with rap and electronics, which leads into a more traditional call-and-response chorus. The group also merge secular pieces with more sacred ones such as ‘Toada Para Oxum’ (tune for Oxum) which has an afoxé rhythm set to almost dub-like electronic sounds and singing in candomblé over the top. The parts from different genres fit well together, and well-formed songs carry the album. The range of instrumentation is also impressive: vocals, electronics, violin, drums, triangles, agogo, berimbau all emphasise the rhythmical qualities of the different styles and keep you moving and bouncing throughout the album. ‘Tanta Fogueira’ also has a nice violin fusion with bass grooves alongside.

The album traverses many boundaries; the explorative but synthesised world of electronics and sound systems. Connected with the liveness and societal foundational of the old, Sociativa takes elements primarily from Brazil, but also engages with musical concepts from other countries too. This feels like a presentation – albeit of music that they respect. When you listen to it on speakers at a quieter volume, you readily follow the traditional Brazilian elements of the album. In turning the volume up, the electronic and strong bass frequencies start to secure more dominance and the party vibe takes over.