Lucas Santtana is one of Brazil's brightest indie-rock/neotropicalia artists, emerging in the 1990s as a songwriter favored by Daniela Mercury and Marisa Monte, while performing with axe pioneer Geronimo and in Gilberto Gil's early '90s band. Santtana released his first solo album the following decade, and has become a cult favorite to fans across the globe. Here's a quick look at his work...
Gilberto Gil & Caetano Veloso "Caetano E Gil: Tropicalia 2" (Polygram, 1993)
Along with some other newcomers -- Celso Fonseca, Ramiro Musotto -- Lucas Santtana makes the scene with Brazilian cultural superheroes Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso on this excellent album, a turning point in the renewal of Gil's creative work. Santtana is only credited on one track, playing flute, but this is still a pretty auspicious start! I think he was also a member of Gil's touring band around this same time...
Lucas Santtana "Eletro Ben Dodo" (Natasha, 1999)
(Produced by Ramiro Mussoto, Lucas Santtana & others)
Classically fashioned tropicalia from the younger set in Brazil. Energetic, acoustic-based revelry that openly glories in its debts to Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso and Jorge Ben. Produced by fellow novo tropicalista rocker, Chico Neves, this weaves Afro-Brasilian percussion in with dynamic acoustic guitars, and plenty of funky rhythms. Santtana's creative sweep isn't as "out there" as the wildest old stuff from the old pros, but he does capture the verve and enthusiasm they had in their youth. With the exception of one well-chosen cover tune -- James Brown's "Doin' It To Death" -- all these tunes are Santtana originals, showing that this fellow is clearly a major talent on the contemporary Brazilian rock scene. Highly recommended!
Lucas Santtana "Parada De Lucas" (Diginois, 2003)
The opening riffs -- of digitally scrambled, remixed bandolim and traditional samba percussion on the song "Frequente" -- are almost breathtaking in their freshness and dynamism. The spell doesn't last long, though: a canned, old-hat, neo-funkatronica bass line kicks in after a few seconds, and this swiftly becomes a standard-issue pop-tronica record. Still, there's an exuberance and freshness here that's hard to miss. Santtana trusts his poppiest, least pretentious, most bubblegummy instincts, and sometimes it pays off beautifully. The fluid, fast-paced remix of "Tatica De Machine" that closes the album makes the most of the giddy fluffiness of old-school drum'n'bass/house music, but weds it to a solid pop framework... The rest of the album is okay, but not as consistently groovy or innovative as one might wish. There's also a cover of Bob Marley's "Punky Reggae Party" that has a solid roots-dub feel... (Too bad it's in English, and not Portuguese, but Santtana still gets points for trying...) Overall, I'd say this disc is worth checking out... Included among the many younger musicians on here is percussionist Ramiro Mussotto, who also co-produced much of the album.
Lucas Santtana & Selecao Natural "3 Sessions In A Greenhouse" (Diginois, 2006)
Lucas Santtana "Sem Nostalgia" (Mais Um Discos, 2011)
(Produced by Lucas Santtana)
A marvelous, enchanting album. Layering alt-pop production and samba-bossa surrealism, Santtana truly unites tropicalia's essence with modern indierock sensibility... This is a real "headphone album," with lots of sonic depth and detail, recalling -- for me at least -- the best work of Beck Hanson. Santtana's own creative vision is beautifully realized on here, along with several high-powered collaborators, including alt-rock-funkster Curumin, the alt-pop band Do Amor, Brazilian weirdo-rock elder Arto Lindsay, as well as Buguinha Dub, of the band Nacao Zumbi. I'm not normally a fan of Brazilian's singing in English (where's the fun in that??) but Santtana turns it on its head here, using his Brazilian accent as another exotic coloring in an already-alluring musical palette. Also, the songs themselves are quite good, and the English lyrics are evocative and even a little eerie. Great stuff -- a more cohesive version, perhaps, of the old-style oddness of Tom Ze and the tropicalia crowd. Highly recommended.
Lucas Santtana "Remix Nostalgia" (Mais Um Discos, 2011)
Lucas Santtana "Deus Que Devasta Mas Tambem Cura" (Sony Brasil, 2012)
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