Japa Habilidoso – Funk Do Sindicalismo

Funk Do Sindicalismo is a record which boasts some notable firsts. Not only was this the first Future Times release of 2015, but it’s also the first time these two tracks – initially released as a CD-R by a small Brazilian label nearly two years ago – have been available on vinyl. Issued as a 12”, they’re accompanied by artwork from Lale Westvind so killer that it’s been made into a t-shirt. That’s not bad for a name which will be unfamiliar to so many. Blame it on the increasingly unwieldy internet or perhaps even blame it on geography, but unless you happened to have stumbled upon a particular Bandcamp page or are particularly clued in to the scene in Rio de Janiero, Gabriel Guerra and his various projects may well occupy an unexplored corner of contemporary music.

Japa Habilidoso - Funk Do Sindicalismo
Artist
Japa Habilidoso
Title
Funk Do Sindicalismo
Label
Future Times
Format
12"
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Guerra makes up one half of that aforementioned Brazilian label, a CD-r-focused undertaking called 40% Foda/Maneirissimo. He’s produced under the names Guerrinha, DJ Guerrinha, and Finalzinho Chegando in the past, but here he’s Japa Habilidoso, a compound of Brazilian slang and conventional Portuguese which means “skilful Japanese person.” The title track fades in, seemingly from out of a fog, with steadily rolling drums to keep pace. Though innocuous enough of a start, it’s not long before the label’s own proclamation of this being “the most punk shit that FT has so far had the pleasure of releasing” becomes irrefutably true.

A rich and comforting female voice dances the occasional slow circle in Portuguese, and there’s some vaguely tribal chirping or other oddball sounds, but the real cynosure here is the tireless percussive assault. Crunchy, garbled, and entirely full-bodied, with heavy distortion and a menacingly blown-out kick drum to boot. Franticly hyperactive, it’s an intricate and constantly shifting sonic workout where, when scratching and crashing ensue, the effect is energising rather than jarring. It’s a curveball through and through.

Compared to the A-side, “Agronomic Setorial” is noticeably less abrasive but no less interesting. This feels instantly warmer and more lyrical, with a machine funk that chugs along and provides an ideal complement to the deliberate but ever-so-slightly meandering piano line when it comes in and out. Lest this be regarded as a straight-forward dance track, it’s not. No, this is still thoroughly unusual, the plinky guitar strumming and curious melodies ensure that, as does the surfacing of a woman speaking Portuguese again – possibly even the same woman we met before, but her voice is markedly less distorted this side. A brief respite from the drums leads to a luscious piano loop-filled Twilight Zone haze, before the drums are reintroduced and so too is familiar territory. It’s all very exacting in its playfulness, and ends as suddenly as it begins.

How exactly the FT guys came across Sr. Habilidoso is a mystery – maybe it was one of those blessed accidental discoveries – but regardless, it makes sense that they’d be attracted to these two cuts. This is the sort of music that’s so bold, it is hard to imagine how anyone could listen without having some reaction. Equal parts beautiful and bizarre, Funk Do Sindicalismo dovetails nicely with the label’s aesthetic while still managing to be the most punk shit the D.C. crew has put out yet. More importantly, it’s a release which facilitates Japa Habilidoso’s introduction to a broader audience, something which he clearly deserves.

Rose Mardit

Tracklisting:

A1. Funk Do Sindicalismo
B1. Agronomia Setorial