Friday, September 28, 2007

Grim Tropicalia?

Corpse-paint has the most unexpected antecedents.

There is a school in anthropology which studies diffusion: the spread of cultural ideas and artefacts from one culture to another. Often the focus is on material culture: extensive studies have been made of the patterns of diffusion of certain patterns which adorn pottery. But the concept of diffusion can be applied to many thing: Black Metal corpse-paint, amongst others!

Yesterday I bought the cd "Brazil '70" which was recently released by Soul Jazz Records. The cd collects Brazilian music from the early seventies, music which was inspired by the Tropicalia movement. I can wholeheartedly recommend the album - perhaps I'll review it more extensively in another post.

The center page of the very informative booklet accompanying the cd features a wonderful photograph of the band "Secos E Molhados". About the outrageous costumes of the band, the booklet mentions that the group was a direct inspiration for the American rock band KISS.

And in it's turn, KISS was one of the influences on the ghoulish, black and white make-up worn by the members of the infamous Norwegian Black Metal band Mayhem, and their many imitators. Thus, Tropicalia indirectly influenced the frostbitten, dark world of Black Metal!

Interestingly, Moynihan and Søderlind's book "Lords Of Chaos" mentions another Brazilian inspiration for corpsepaint: the band Sarcófago, a Brazilian Trash Metal band. Jon "Metalion" Kristiansen, founder of legendary Norwegian metal magazine Slayer, is cited: "I think it was really from a band called Sarcofago from Brazil. A very extreme metal band, they released an album and Euronymous was totally obsessed by them because they wore lots of spikes and corpsepaint. He said he wanted every band to look like this, because he was so against the Death Metal trend from the USA and Sweden". I've been unable to ascertain whether Sarcófago's corpse-paint practice was in any way inspired by "Secos E Molhados". Perhaps Brazilian readers of this blog can enlighten me?


Anonymous said...

Another question would be, to what extent was Secos e Molhados influenced by Arthur Brown?

Also interesting to note, this time from a musical standpoint, something that isn't mentioned in Moynihan's book but recently became more apparent from the many interviews compiled for the Vomit discography and the Vinyl reissue of DMDS: Just how obsessed and reverential the Norwegians (and in particular, Euronymous) were of American avante-garde group The Residents.

wireless darkness said...

mayhem was certainly influenced by their absolute hatred for death metal, especially in norway, but there were plenty of those who followed that rebellion, especially darkthrone, whose early discography is rather different.

the style may have been influenced by sarcofago, but there have been so many individuals and musicians who have donned a sort of mask or donned painted faces during routines to ever really justify it being this or that. black metal does it in the institution of making the character LESS human, preferably aligned with the darker sides of death for the eyes of the uninitated.

Nuala_die_Fee said...

Hi Valter,

I found your blog by googling some informations about the most intriguing Secos&Molhados urban legend.

Then I decided to take a look at your whole blog, mensch! you have a lot of good stuff there! - so I am really curious - where exactly would be "a dwarf state in central Europe - the Abruptum kind of dwarf, that is"???

Well, that can't be "that" far from Austria, so I started to think... where the hell is this place where somebody knows Secos&Molhados??

(btw, I am a Brazilian living in Vienna, THAT explains why I love the band... but you??)

well, anyway, your blog is pretty interesting, I'll drop by sometimes. (actually I have quoted it in my own blog!)

see ya!

valter said...

Thanks all of your for your comments.

That The Residents were an inspiration to the Black Metal inner circle is a surprise to me and a fascinating avenue of research.

The 'dwarf state' is part of the 'Valter'. Thanks for the link!