“A shotgun in state of grace”
Or how the track “Gasolina” (2016) by Teto Preto travels in time, bringing a message from the past encapsulated in a sound of the future.
Leia em português aqui.
If you’re not familiarised, Teto Preto is the mutable and perfect collaboration between ANGELA CARNEOSSO (aka visual artist Laura Diaz), producers L_cio and Zopelar, multi-instrumentist Bica and the french performer Loïc Koutana. This is one of my greatest reason of cultural pride from Brazil, not only for its production and video quality but for the meaning that it carries in this specific moment in time. Listen here:
As the African drums and the indigenous Brazilian rattles start, you can feel it pullulating from the sound system into your heart. The mixture of organic brazilities with the electronic beats can make you feel like you’re about to be part of a technoshamanic ritual. Here, the energy I get is inspiration from a future with a Brazilian influence and perspective. The depth lies not only in the cello notes but in the reference filled lyrics, that I shall explain next. And if you have something to add, please do so as comments in this post.
Gasoline on them!
With the powerful rhythm, comes the war cry that will haunt you for days in CARNEOSSO’s voice: Gasolina, gasolina neles (gasoline on them). I dare say iconic Elis Regina’s raspiness comes to mind. Our sweet sweet Portuguese, so poetic, perfectly matched for the dancefloor and still (not so) undiscovered. According to Laura, “it’s like a passionate mantra about keeping fighting, not being scared of that staged cruelty.” Timeless message, but more than ideal to the now.
What keeps surprising/scaring me is how this song keeps getting a life of its own and more meanings arise after its launch in 2016. For me, for instance, I had goosebumps when the track came to me in random mode during the The Diesel Crisis in may, earlier this year and the chorus seemed more like an anthem from that moment.
Earth in Trance
This first verse sounds nonsense but is purposefully taken from the 50-year-old film Terra em Transe [Earth in Trance] by Glauber Rocha, one of the greatest filmmakers from Brazil. The movie, forgotten by youth yet relevant to today’s socio-political setting, was launched after the 1964 military coup and was a presage to the hardest hit of the dictatorship that had just started, the Institutional Act of 68 or AI-5. Gasolina is also premonition. To Laura, it was her genesis, her tipping point of becoming CARNEOSSO. The lyrics came during a jam session after being arrested along with 71 other students in a peaceful occupation at the University of São Paulo in 2011 and represent her feeling of sameness:
When I got back from Eldorado
I don’t know if before or after [being arrested]
When I saw the immutable landscape again
The same people lost
In their infinite greatness
Jornal Nexo and Casa do Saber have two essential videos that contextualize it to today’s setting, which looks more like a déjà vu. Any similarity with the present is mere reality.
The Same Lost People
When you least expect, quotes from the Bible arise. Just like the conservative evangelicals are taking over politics in my country. On top of Jesus’s quotes, the drums get more and more violent, like it resists force-fed body of Christ. Brazilian history retold by sounds.
The part is from John 6:51 “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever.” The holy blasphemous feeling of listening to that while in the middle of the street party MAMBA NEGRA, artistic occupation where TETO PRETO is resident, looking up at the 40–50 story skyscrapers in the old and decayed center of São Paulo or at an abandoned industrial building.
The third verse is special, not because it got a new meaning, but a personification. From whispers to her full voice, repeated tirelessly: “I’m a machine-gun in the state of grace.” It’s quote from Poema Vertigem (Vertigo Poem) by Roberto Piva, a famous surrealist poet from the 60s.
The repetition is like a sick mind convincing itself that its wrong deeds in a holy-war are excusable. Like a robot population (and its bots) that repeat ideas and use memes as weapons, that don’t question the most obvious signs of insanity and evil in a man is his (bad) ideology. Uncontrolled memetic virus.
Present, past, future. Beginning, middle, end. Censorship, good intention, surreal dystopia
Beyond all the meanings about Brazil’s current state, sung by old verses and that influence our future, this piece reminds us of a saying that I see clearly in Brazil, that partying is also fighting [o fervo também é luta]. And if you allow me: today, every gestures and expressions become protest. Artists and their work, businesses and their brands, products and their causes, you and your daily (r)existence.
And fighting comes before mourning.
At Torus, we study time continuously.
We develop studies that promote the awakening of a wholesome view of time. We question. We invite you to understand the Zeitgeist by dialoguing with many voices. We help to see through different possible lenses.
If you’re interested, we invite you to learn and to teach. To travel through memories of humanity and the possibilities that are to come. And to find, together, what we need to materialize in the now.