I'm walking down a long corridor in my head and the doors are all closed. I'm listening to my iPod. 17,000 songs are in my left front pocket and I want to talk about them but I don't know what to say.
Ramiro Musotto's Sudaka was waiting for me in my mail box when we returned from our trip to Columbia, South Carolina. I felt a rush of adrenaline when I saw the manilla envelope with the Fast Horse return address label in the upper left hand corner. I started tearing the package open as I walked from the mailbox back to my apartment.
The first time I listened to Sudaka was while I was in the car, running errands that were put off until after our trip to South Carolina. I was making the lefthand turn onto Sparkman Drive when I realized I was already three songs into the record. That surprised me. I didn't think I'd zoned out while listening but I couldn't remember shifting from "Caminho" to "Ginga" to "Raio." I started the album over and it happened again; "Raio" seemed to come from out of nowhere. Musotto knows how to sequence a record because the flow of these opening tracks is flawless.
I listened to the entire record over the course of my trip to return a faulty remote control to Comcast and to rent We Own The Night; my first ever Blu-Ray DVD rental. I liked what I heard but didn't have a strong sense of what to say about the record beyond that. The doors were still closed.
I don't know if Sudaka or any of its song titles can be translated to mean fortress, but that's what this record was today.
I was sitting in my cube at work when I was assaulted by the all too frequent shouting of a co-worker. I have a strong sense of space and privacy. My co-worker – we'll call him Glenn – does not. He's an intense guy with a real problem controlling his frustration and rage. Those of us who share this room often comment on "the weather" in Glenn's corner cube. I suppose there is an advantage to knowing he's in a particularly foul mood but it's uncomfortable to be the captive audience to one end of a fierce confrontation several times a day, several times per week.
I woke up this morning in such a good mood; a real rarity for me. I was looking forward to getting to work at an earlier start time than usual. I looked forward to an out of the way trip to Starbucks for a rare cup of coffee to start the day. Within moments of logging in and checking my work e-mails, my peaceful morning was disrupted by Glenn shouting at his wife about her inability to operate a tractor.
I'm usually pretty good at coping with this because it is by no means rare. Sometimes I find humor in the preposterous volume and over-the-top harshness. Today it was upsetting. It made my head hurt and my stomach sink. I needed something stronger than cube walls in an open room to shield me from the overheated verbal blasts and I wasn't ready to crank heavy metal into my ears.
I listened to Sudaka for a second time this morning, hoping it would shield me from the gathering storm of Hurricane Glenn just a few feet away. I was hoping that by concentrating on the music that I'd not only get physical distance from the Great Tractor War of 2008, but that I'd also be transported to a place in my own mind where I could hear the music and find a voice to discuss and describe it.
What's funny about this is Sudaka is no easy listening record. This is an album bursting with sounds, rhythms, and grooves. I suppose it's a lot like taking Ritalin to counteract hyperactivity; I escaped my confinement by bludgeoning my senses with something equally encompassing.
The foundations of my own personal fortress were being erected by the time "Caminho" seamlessly transitioned to "Ginga." I'd love to play those first two tracks for U2. In six minutes, Musotto found the sound U2 spent who knows how long searching for in the studio when they were working on Pop. Instead of looking to Europe for the trashy electronic sounds to create a dance-oriented U2 record, they should have looked to Brazil. There are sounds heard in these first two songs that can also be heard on Pop. The difference, to borrow from Will Smith in Men in Black is that Musotto makes them sound good. Even now, I'd love it if U2 would turn over the Pop multitracks to him to see if he could find a way to make the album they were so desperately trying to make.
I imagine "Raio" as what it sounds like when one of the space shuttles docks with the International Space Station. Once the shuttle reaches outer space, it must orbit the earth in such a way that it can catch up to the station's orbit for them to dock. "Raio" opens with an electronic rhythm pattern. Moments later an insistent, steadily increasing thump is introduced. As the song enters its second minute these two patterns merge and new sounds are introduced until the song reaches its apex and then the song deconstructs itself.
The combination of electronic sounds, field recordings, and traditional Brazilian drumming is an assault all its own. I've never been to Brazil, but I've seen pictures and heard tell of hyper-kinetic Rio de Janeiro. It doesn't take much of a leap to hear some of these tracks as an aural presentation of that claustrophobic world.
This is not a record to analyze. Don't fight it and don't try to figure it out. Submit to it. Let it be your fortress, your firewall. I'm still standing in that corridor and the doors are still closed but right now I don't care.
Sudaka is Musotto's debut album, originally released in 2003. It is now available worldwide for the first time through Fast Horse Recordings.