ão Paulo shaking to that post-rock beat? It seems so with the fourth release from Brazil’s Hurtmold. A spellbinding release, it’s the follow-up to their split CD with the Chicago trio The Eternals. Scenes of interlocking urbanity provided by the band’s guitarist, Mario Cappi, are portrayed on the cover, not unlike São Paulo itself, beautifully packaged in a foldout card sleeve perhaps giving an indication to the textured grooves within.

Here the six-some further mine their delicate, organic, and mostly instrumental post-rock combining rock’s traditional instrumentation with clarinet, vibraphone and harmonica. “Amarelo é vermelho” (“Yellow is Red”) features Tortoise-like guitar pickings swept along by Mauricio Takara’s rolling and dramatic drumming, while an effect-laden trumpet gives the track a giddy dreamlike feel.

In fact, slight guitar motifs are the order of the day on this CD, “Musica Politica para Maradona Cantar” (“Political Song for Maradona to Sing”—gotta love those titles!) follows this formula with wistful Augustus Pablo melodica providing melody and then changes pace into an almost chugging little rocker. “Sova” breaks off into free jazz skronk at regular intervals while gentle electronics tap away in the background.

It would be easy to label Hurtmold as the Brazilian Tortoise, and the guitar sound can be similar at times, but their attention to structure as well the ability to let the tracks play out and breathe gives them the freedom to insert a little jazziness into the proceedings, leaving such comparisons lacking.

Does post-rock have a role in Brazil’s music scene? São Paulo has always been the source of the more out-rock created in Brazil, especially during the eighties when the influences that poured into the country kicked Brazil’s nascent rock scene into high gear—the wide ranging and virtually impossible to define genre of MPB had always previously dominated. São Paulo was the center of an experimental new wave scene, while Rio de Janeiro produced mostly derivative pop-rock hybrids.

Unlike Rio, which is the classic Brazilian stereotype of sun, sea, and dazzling tropical beauty, São Paulo can be cold, grey and downright miserable at times, and the city is absolutely crawling with hipsters, creating thriving experimental music networks with musicians collaborating and working on several simultaneous and varied projects. Members of Hurtmold can be found in the backing band of avant-Samba hip-hoppers Instituto and drummer Takara contributed to the excellent O Ciclo Da Decadençia by Cidadão Instigado which has to be heard to be believed, coming across as a kind of cracked post-punk King Crimson hybrid.

As well as working with The Eternals, last year Hurtmold collaborated with Rob Mazurek of Chicago Undergound and Isotope 217 further strengthening the Chicago/São Paulo interface and leaves me wondering what else will come out of this somewhat unlikely but fruitful communion.

Reviewed by: Andy Cumming

Reviewed on: 2005-02-21

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