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Artist: Bango

Album: Bango

Label: Shadoks

Review date: Sep. 20, 2005

The highest form of tourism, the cruise, is a carefully organized blend of objects, sights, sounds, and people, with a full bar, a gaudy casino, a carefully manicured swimming pool, and a mustachioed man named Ralph attending your every need, tipping his hat cordially. Bango’s self-titled record exports that model to the world of listening. It’s “Brazil: Your Way,” psychedelic rock the way you remember it.

A cruise through samba, Hendrix, tropicalia, the Beatles, garage rock, even—gasp!—indigenous music, with an afternoon-long stop at each site. With everything already discovered, you, the listener, are free to sit back and enjoy the sunshine.

Originally released in 1970, Bango does capture the playful exuberance of some of that era’s best music. In fact, it is archetypal, the essence of Brazilian psych rock, so perfectly distilled it might as well be available in pill form. From heavy guitar riffs and organ trills of “Inferno No Mundo” to the confused Americanisms of “Only,” Bango presents a calculated synthesis of a fundamentally uncalculated musical movement—it’s this sort of calculation that transforms musical experiments into genres.

That said, Bango isn’t a bad genre record, and certainly succeeds at sounding like Brazilian psych rock. Though the chorus of “Rolling Like a Boat” recalls the more stellar “Proud Mary,” (only without the panache of Tina Turner’s original or the rough-hewn despair of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s cover), the frenzied vocal squalls on “Rock Dream” make amusing counterpoint (and a passable impersonation of Mick Jagger after a handful of speed). If you’ve read about Brazil in the guidebooks, this trip probably offers everything you might expect. Then again, Muzak is structured around that same quality, eliminating the surprises to create a product so refined it becomes part of the environment.

By Alexander Provan

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