Take 5 with Brazilian Wax

The excellently-named Brazilian Wax had its genesis in February of 2017, when they surfed the airwaves of Leeds Student Radio for the first time. Brazilian Wax is the nomme de guerre of Henry Weekes and Joe Osborne. Osborne’s crate digger sensibilities and Weekes’ background as a choral scholar is what brought them together, and the project started as a way for Weekes to explore the music and culture of his mother’s Brazilian heritage.

They have since expanded to live events, and have brought names like Mafalda, Tim Garcia and Música Macondo to some of Leeds’ most hallowed dance floors. They are a welcome breath of fresh air, aiming to diversify the Leeds nightlife from the sweaty techno-only nights and introducing a splash of colour. We asked Osborne and Weekes to sit back and Take 5 with us, and they certainly did not disappoint, picking out tracks from Brazil’s past and present that serve as a musical education for even the most fastidious musicophile.

1. Gal Costa - Cultura e civilização (Philips)

JOE: I always run out of superlatives when I try and explain how brilliant Gal Costa’s two 1969 albums are. These two records show off the best of Brazil’s polychrome protest music tropicalia. Both albums smash together Hendrix guitars, Afro-Brazilian percussion, North-East African modes, late-Beatles strings, beautiful bossa nova and the visceral funk of James Brown. It’s an unlikely amalgamation of sounds, but very much aligns with the tropicalistas’ ‘cultural cannibalism’ ethos. On "Cultura E Civilização", the snarling sea of guitars and choppy psych-funk rhythm section are navigated by Costa’s vocals, equal parts, sweet and squealing in a way she only knows how.

2. Antonio Carlos & Jocafi - Ossain (RCA Victor)

HENRY: As a song, "Ossain" is a Brazilian Wax favourite. It has been re-written and turned on its head by the likes of Carrot Green & Salavgem, with their version being a regular floor filler during our late-night sets. Our favourite Antonio Carlos & Jocafi version is a far cry from that, though - as soon as the pandeiro starts to shake, you know that you’re in for a treat. The song carries within it the very essence of Brazilian guitar groove, with its joyous and uplifting chorus guaranteed to get you moving.

3. Teto Preto - Pedra Petra (Mamba Rec)

JOE: I’ve fallen head-over-heels for Teto Preto and have frequently, and extremely enthusiastically, tried and failed to explain their sound to friends. Adjectives like ‘sexy’, ‘moody’, ‘outrageous’ come close but don’t suffice. So I came to the conclusion that it’s more accurate to describe their latest album, Pedra Preta, as a person: as a spotty thirteen-year-old, Pedra would have been found lurking around a shit skate park, decked out head to toe in black and neon Cyber Dog clobber, listening to Nine Inch Nails and guzzling White Ace. Fast-forward through the college years and the research chemicals, you find Pedra as a blossoming adult at a Berlin sex party – all black patent leather and cheekbones – interpretive-dancing to a moody re-work of a camp eighties anthem... Or something like that... For all the difficulties explaining Teto Preto’s sound, though, the eponymous (and least esoteric) track off Pedra Petra can really be described in two words: fucking huge.

4. Dorival Caymmi - Promessa de Pescador (Odeon)

HENRY: Hailing from Bahia in North-East Brazil, Dorival Caymmi is one of the most significant musicians in Brazilian history, influencing other Bahian greats such as Gilberto Gil and Gal Costa. His music perfectly represents Brazil’s rich and vast musical landscape, playing everything from samba, toadas, modinhas, as well as music from the Candomble religious ceremonies. His powerful baritone creates an ethereal sound which draws you into his music and cradles you in its warm, smooth melodic lines. "Promessaa de Pescador" is Caymmi at his most dreamy and is a timeless Brazilian classic.

5. Flora Purim - Open Your Eyes, You Can Fly (Milestone)

JOE: Flora Purim is an unbelievable jazz and fusion vocalist who’s collaborated with just about everyone – Chick Corea, Dizzy Gillespie, the Grateful Dead, Jaco Pastorious and, her husband, Airto Moreira, to name a few. It is on her own albums, though, that she really pushes boundaries with what jazz singing can be. With an outrageous six octave range, her vocals are truly acrobatic. This endlessly funky cut features Purim soaring above Alphonso Johnson’s slinky bass with Airto and Leon Chancellor battling it out on the drums and percussion underneath.