Playlist/Video Premiere
Words: Dominic Valvona

Junkboy ‘Belo Horizonte’
Taken from the reissued/remasterd Sovereign Sky LP, released via Fretsore Records, 25th September 2020

Junkboy ‘Tropicalia Special’ Playlist
Available via Spotify

In the run-up to the release of Junkboy’s acclaimed 2014 cult album Sovereign Sky (released later this month), the Hanscomb brothers in partnership with Ian Sephton of Fretsore Records (who signed the boys back in 2019) have already shared the hazy-soulful Love-esque lapping tidal reflection single-video ‘Salt Water’ with the Monolith Cocktail’s followers, and now, furnish us with a second single of equally lush quality, the sauntering Brazilian psych lilt ‘Belo Horizonte’.

A culmination of Mik and Rich Hanscomb‘s experiments with a number of different styles, Sovereign Sky adopted a relaxed attitude to the pastoral, to cooing frat-folk, surf music, Britpop, the hip sound of Tokyo’s Shibuya Kei district and surprisingly, the languid sweltering rays of late 60s and early 70s Brazilian psych: otherwise known as “Tropicalia”. That album gave fair voice and a wistfully charmed backing of tenderly picked acoustic guitars, stirring strings and hushed, almost whispered, vocals to both the pains and loves of maturity. The brothers mellowed tones and introspection offered a mature observation on the world around them: especially, at the time, their relocated new home of Brighton. It’s a place in which Marc Eric meets Cornelius, and epic45 make friends with Harpers Bizarre; a place where Hawthorne, California and the beach samba saunter of Brasilia is transcribed to the English downs and seaside.

Not just to tie in with that forthcoming reissue release but also, as Mik Hanscomb offers, a reminder that “this is a music of resistance, and well, perhaps that spirit is needed now more than ever”, the brothers have also compiled a homage style playlist to their Tropicalia influences for us on Spotify.

It maybe the end of the summer, but the boys has provided the perfect comedown and ease into autumn. Enjoy.

The remasterd reissue of the previously limited Sovereign Sky is being released on the 25th September 2020 through Fretsore Records. You can read our original review in the link below, and also find previous Junkboy posts and premieres.

Junkboy ‘Salt Water’ Premiere (here)

‘Sovereign Sky’ Review (here)

 ‘Trains, Trees, Topophila’ Albums Of 2019 (here)

‘Waiting Room’ Premiere (here)



Bixiga 70 ‘Quebra Cabeça’ (Glitterbeat Records) 12th October 2018

Few bands speak Fela Kuti so fluently and convincingly as the Brazilian outfit Bixiga 70, fusing, as they do, the Afrobeats progenitor showman’s rhythms with the Latin sounds of South America to such dynamic affect. The Sao Paulo group’s fourth album is once more informed and fueled by this connective spirit to Africa, though arguably more ambitious in scope and musically more complex than previous releases. In the past the ten-strong group have played live in the studio, capturing as close as they can their famous energetic, exciting stage performances. Whilst still continuing to do this, the post-production process has been much longer, with each originally spontaneous recording played with and reshaped to create a longer more shifting musical journey.

A year in the making Quebra Cabeça, which translates as the ‘puzzle’, is a full 360-degree panoramic evocation (both joyful and lamentable) of Brazil’s African roots. That heritage, which has woven almost seamlessly into the very fabric of life and culture, obviously originally sprung forth from the heinous ‘Black Atlantic’ slave trade. The toil, sweat and harrowing maltreatment of this history permeates throughout the album, yet this is also a celebration of the rich musical legacy they brought from Africa to the shores of Brazil.

Translating those roots, an ancestry that runs through many of the band members (some individuals descended from the Africa-Caribbean religion of ‘candomble’ for instance), Bixiga are also inspired on this journey by some of the highly talented artists they’ve shared various stages with over the years. Artists such as the Ghanaian highlife singer Pat Thomas, the Nigerian sublime traversing saxophonist legend Orlando Julius and Brazilian octogenarian star João Donato. Incorporating the lot they merge their brass-y signature carnival funk and shaking Afrobeat sass with cosmic voodoo, Afro-jazz and sloping funk: And that’s just on the opening title-track. Rattling, thumping drums underlay echoes of Santana on the cantering ‘Ilha Vizinha’, traces of Archie Shepp day-tripping in Memphis undulate the veiled sorrowful memories of the ‘Levante’, and the polygenesis fusion of rock guitar, electro rumba and R&B that sends the band off into entirely new spheres on ‘Primeiramente’ envisage a day of the dead march on the moon.

Credit: José de Holanda

The quality shines through on every track, with the visions and evocations of both Africa and Bixiga’s hometown of Sao Paulo articulated by an energetic but also ruminating soundtrack of the tribal, funky, cosmic, tropical, gospel and ritual. The slave portal of Benin, further outlying deserts of the sub-Sahara and busy rhythmic bustles of Nigeria are channeled via the melting pot hubs of Brazil on the group’s most epic, ancestral and geographical straddling album. It only remains to see just how great it will sound live on stage.

Words: Dominic Valvona

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