Boomkat Product Review:
Damião Experiença's surreal, self-released run of LPs are among Brazil's most bizarre subcultural treasures, a blown-out mix of psychedelia, freak folk, prog and reggae that defies convention at every loose beat. 'Planeta Lamma' attempts to condense the output for curious beginners, cherrypicking crucial moments from the Brazilian legend's vast catalog. Mindboggling gear.
Self-taught outsider Damião Ferreira da Cruz, aka Damião Experiença, is considered to be the Brazilian answer to Captain Beefheart, Daniel Johnston, Jandek or Moondog, a wildly inventive fringe hybridist whose dadaist, semi-improvised songs - often sung in his own invented dialect - have found him a dedicated cult following. Famously press-shy and irritable, Damião was born in Bahia, escaping as a pre-teen to Rio de Janeiro, where he joined the Brazilian navy. Legend has it that Damião hit his head when he fell from a ship's crow's nest, which could explain his unpredictable moods, but he left the navy in the mid-1960s, working as a pimp to fund his private press releases.
Damião's moniker was an homage to his favorite band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, but the music doesn't exactly come across as a tribute. Singing in his own 'Planet Lamma dialect', Damião improvised on instruments he never learned how to play, assembling his voice into ritualistic, overlayed chatters and one-string guitar riffs into a lumbering, reggae-esque chug. Drums might match up, or might not, pattering in the background to add psychedelic thrust, rather than a rhythmic backbone. At its best, the music sounds like multiple records playing at the same time, held together by Damião's charismatic, garbled tones.
'Planeta Lamma' might share a name with Damião's 1974 debut, but it's not the same album. Confusingly, both records begin with the same track (the brief '1308 Registrou Gravou Rose Oliria Experiença'), but this edition quickly goes off piste. The focal point of the first side is the chaotic 'Ritmo Linguagem Planeta Lamma', a densely layered 20-minute romp that Damião released in 1999 (as far as we can tell). The side ends with 'Planeta Lamma' from the debut album, and the second side is mostly taken up by 'Sol', another lengthy, freeform experiment that's taken from the Brazilian multi-instrumentalist's late period. Jazzy and unpredictable, it's a frothy blast of angular funk that's got us confused and completely absorbed. One for the cranks!