Satanique Samba Trio's Sangrou

Satanique Samba Trio
(Amplitude Art)

Curb Your Cynicism is a recurring blogtastic feature in which the music editor pithily enthuses about new releases and reissues he thinks will enhance your life and erode your cynicism about the state of music, circa now.

On their MySpace page, Satanique Samba Trio write that their music sounds like “a jar full of wrong.” Sounds right to me.

SST hail from Brazil, but don't expect any “Girl From Ipanema” mellowness or Mutantes-like psychedelic whimsy from this quintet (even their name is wrong). Instead, SST wrench out angular, knotty grotesqueries that allude to avant-garde jazz and progressive rock without exhibiting obvious trademarks of either genre. You know how some faces are so ugly you can't take your eyes off 'em? An ugliness that's so over-the-top it becomes a fucked-up kind of beauty? Same principle applies to SST's music. Sangrou is kind of like The Elephant Man of albums—and I think David Lynch would appreciate these guys, too.

Sangrou's 16 tracks skitter by in 35 minutes, but a lot of sonic info is crammed into its brief run time. The prevalent modes are clattering, disjointed and spastic. Imagine John Zorn's more jittery, scatterbrained compositions played by French eccentric Albert Marcoeur, or the Mothers of Invention if they were sozzled on rum. A recurring tension between highbrow jazz and lowbrow circus music lends the disc an oddly compelling friction.

According to the press bio, two SST members reputedly are ex-gangsters while the other three are music-school graduates; their live shows often feature transvestite dancers. Now this crazy album is starting to make sense. . . . Prolonged exposure to Sangrou makes me want to smash bottles, slap asses and cuss in Portuguese.

Below is a short video of a track not on Sangrou, which nonetheless gives you an inkling of SST's off-kilter genius.

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