Dusting Off… Lucas Santtana’s Sem Nostalgia
What is it?
A relatively recent release as far as Dusting Off is concerned, Sem Nostalgia (or No Nostalgia in English) is the fourth album, released in 2009, by Brazilian singer-songwriter & guitarist Lucas Santtana. Written partly in English and partly in Santtana’s native Portugese, Sem Nostalgia is about as far from your average guitarist-singer-songwriter fare as it’s possible to be. Instead, Santtana mixes a variety of the more traditional styles associated with Brazil, such as Bossa Nova and Samba, with more contemporary styles including electro, future jazz and Technobrega, a popular South American phenomenon that literally translated means ‘cheesy techno’. The big difference in Santtana’s approach however is in the production, where he chops up and layers recordings in various different ways and mixes his own instruments with samples, loops and effects.
Santtana set himself the goal of using only guitars and vocals to make the album in tribute to Brazilian artists like Joao Gilberto and the album’s opening salvo, ‘Super Violao Mashup’, is an indicator of what you can expect from the record, with its chopped and manipulated guitars backed up by a blend of traditional percussion instruments and sampled drum loops. Among the many highlights on the album are ‘Who Can Say Which Way’, one of the more straightforward cuts on the record along with ‘Amor Em Jacuma’, a mellow number which sounds like a fairly traditional Bossa groove until about halfway through when it begins to morph into something that has more in common with a Jamaican dub track than anything from Brazilian shores.
Other highlights include the English-language tracks ’Night Time in the Back Yard’ and ‘Hold Me In’, which showcase the fact that Santtana has more in his locker than innovative studio trickery, he also has a knack with the kind of melodies that stubbornly refuse to leave your head for days. The other track that deserves a mention is ‘O Violao de Mario Bros.’, a mashup of sampled acoustic guitars and drum loops based on the music from Nintendo’s most popular game franchise.
Why should I revisit?
In a musical landscape that is awash with singer-songwriters, Lucas Santtana is a breath of fresh air in both his style and approach to making music, taking the most basic elements of voice and guitar and stretching the format much further than most would even attempt. Beyond that, Sem Nostalgia is a beautifully crafted record that is both soulful and playful; this is the ideal soundtrack to a summery Sunday morning and it manages to be challenging without being inaccessible or pretentious. Santtana is a unique talent that that has only in the last few years begun to find success outside of his native Brazil and, having now released 5 albums, has a decent-sized back catalogue to explore for those eager for more of his refreshing South American vibes.
Who will enjoy it?
Anyone who is fan of both electronica and world music will find heaps to enjoy on Sem Nostalgia, as will those who enjoy hearing blends of traditional and contemporary music. If you enjoyed Guru’s Jazzmatazz series of albums or you’re into musicians like Roy Ayers and Rodrigo y Gabriella, Sem Nostalgia should be right up your alley. Similarly, if you enjoyed the production of acts like Squarepusher, there’s plenty of common ground here. Even if you’re just a fan of singer-songwriters, or you are one yourself and you’re looking for inspiration from something a little different, this is well worth adding to your collection.