Monday, 28 November 2016

Ruspo - Dourados

It was with great joy last week we noticed a new Ruspo album in our Bandcamp feed so we felt compelled to spark the blog back into life and shout about it to the world. So without further ado hit play below and carry on reading as, not only is this a wonderful musical endeavor, there is a very serious message in the music. Now The Slow Music Movement is primarily concerned with the promotion of our deliberately vague musical philosophy and it is not our intention to enter the world of activism or politics but sometimes the two are so intertwined as to be inseparable. Welcome to Ruspo's world.

Ruspo first came to our attention in 2013 with his excellent debut album Esses Patifes which was one of those wonderful finds only Bandcamp's global platform could provide and which makes it our favourite and such an all round exciting place to go digital digging. You can have a listen to it here if you like:

Full of lo-fi, home produced breezy, Brazilian charm the new album Dourados partly picks up, certainly in its production approach, where Esses Patifes left off but due to the serious subject matter and Sposati's recent and disturbing experiences there is an unmistakable air of melancholy that pervades this sophomore album. The contrast between the two albums is most obviously highlighted by the new album cover. Gone is the warmth and the organic, artisanal vibe and in comes a grey, misty, vaguely dystopian photo which in my darker moments I imagine to be reclaimed agricultural land cut off from it's original displaced owners by newly installed fencing.

It's always interesting to have sleeve notes with an LP to provide further context to the music, especially in this digital age when such a thing is mostly deemed superfluous, and even more so when the lyrics are in a foreign language and really saying something so I've copied them here. Please brace yourself this is not pleasant reading.

  A little bit" grayer" than its predecessor, the new album is mainly set nearby Dourados, the second largest city in Mato Grosso do Sul state, near the Paraguay border - which is where the Guarani and Kaiowa indigenous peoples live. They have longstanding conflicts with agribusiness corporations, as the state is a central area in the Brazilian soybean industry. The monocultural export crop is notorious for displacing small farmers and Indigenous peoples.

During the 20th century, the Guarani and Kaiowa lost more than 90% of their territory to ranchers (and non-indigenous populations from other states, initially settled by the government as part of the "Conquer Of The West" national policy), and were put in small indigenous reservations, which are overpopulated. Food insecurity amongst their communities is as high as up to 100 percent - over four times higher than the national average. -, while also having one of the highest suicide rates in the world, and are plagued by alcoholism, depression, poverty and violence, due to the lack of land.

For the last couple of years, Sposati was one of the few journalists permanently based in Mato Grosso do Sul covering the Kaiowa story of their ongoing struggle to have their ancestral lands demarcated.

Although Brazil has strong constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression, the country is one of the most dangerous places in the world to practice journalism. Media workers are frequent targets of aggression, intimidation, and judicial censorship, while impunity for crimes against journalists remains high.

In response to his work, in 2013, federal policemen seized Sposati’s computer and sound recording equipment without a warrant while he was documenting the forced removal of an indigenous population from a land currently owned by a wealthy ex-right wing congressman and landowner from the state, and claimed by the Terena indigenous people as theirs.

Besides that, Sposati suffered several lawsuits and police inquiries aiming to put him off the track of his work of speaking out against violence targeting indigenous populations and other traditional communities in the country. He was also investigated in a parliamentary inquiry that falsely accused him of being related to the paraguayan guerillas (!) training indigenous peoples to "invade" private property, "serving international corporative interests" that are "interested in Brazil's natural resources". This is the surrealist environment where "Dourados" the album was crafted.

Despite this tragic story of the Guarani and Kaiowa people and Sposati's harrowing experiences in reporting it being the inspiration driving the album, there is still a Brazilian joie de vivre bubbling under the surface, as with so much of Brazil's music. A certain musical optimism that is saying that despite the dark political turns of recent times and the countless struggles, not only in Brazil but worldwide, there is still hope if all good men and women stand up and confront the greed, hate, discrimination, sexism, inequality, racism and violence.
Have a listen. Have a think. if you feel so compelled spread the word, do your bit and spread some love.