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The Dark Side of the Moon: the Amazon Surf version | reviews, news & interviews

The Dark Side of the Moon: the Amazon Surf version

The Dark Side of the Moon: the Amazon Surf version

The Floyd masterwork has inspired many tribute versions, even in the Amazon

La Pupuňa: Amazonian Floydians

There are numerous tribute versions of The Dark Side of the Moon, by everybody from jazzers to electronica merchants, but the Amazon Surf version must be the most esoteric. Amazon Surf music is one of the more curious music phenomenona I've stumbled on.

You can get versions of it in Peru (check Los Chinches, the London-based group I played on this week's theartsdesk Radio Show); but a centre for the music is in the state of Para in the Brazilian North of the Amazon. 

On several full moons a year, you get the longest surfable wave in the world, which is called the Pororoco. Intrepid surfers come from far afield to test their mettle on these waves. The music scene in Amazon cities like Belem is pretty diverse, with electronic fads like techno-brega, but there is a surf music scene there, and has been since the 1960s. As they are in the North of Brazil, they could listen to Caribbean radio with its laid-back island atmospheres. Dick Dale, for some obscure reason, became popular here. The original surf-guitar sound from the 1960s was called Guittarada, whose proponents included the immaculate Aldo Sena (see below).

A new generation led by the likes of Pio Lobato, the Hank Marvin of the Amazon, developed this style in classic (to me) tracks like “Fura Criatura” (see video, below) in the last decade:

Meanwhile the intensely groovy band La Pupuňa had a semi-hit with “Sao Domingo do Surfe”, a song written for the saint of surfing. But it wasn’t only surf music that had a following in cities like Belem and Manaus (home of the famous Amazon Opera House – built when the rubber merchants made a fortune in the late 19th century). Pink Floyd were among the other top music names to infiltrate the Amazon in the 1970s and 1980s. For some listeners in the UK the album was suburban and complacent, but in the Amazon it sounded radical and thrilling.

So perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised when I met La Pupuňa and they told me their latest opus was a remake of The Dark Side of the Moon, done Amazon Surf style and entitled The Charque Side of the Moon (Charque is apparently a dried and salted local meat delicacy)

I now am less surprised than I used to be by these kinds of enthusiasms. Juan De Marcos Gonazalez, the peerless music director of the multi-million selling Buena Vista Social Club, told me that his favourite band was Bad Company. Asha Bhosle, the most famous Bollywood playback singer, said she admired Shirley Bassey above all others. For La Pupuna, Floyd were their Gods and it was their mission to remake The Dark Side of the Moon. Here’s an extract (excuse the semi-pornographic album sleeve – puritanism, let alone political correctness, is not a concept that has entirely reached Brazil, let alone the Amazon). This is their version of "Time" and "The Great Gig In The Sky":

Read more about The Dark Side of the Moon on theartsdesk 

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