It’s been quite a while since I last heard from Brazilian by way of Hackney duo Tetine, eight years in fact since I received a copy of their 2008 album ‘Let Your X’s Be Y’s, its fusion of gender politics, baile-funk rhythms and Miami bass arriving a short distance ahead of the electro-favela hype that would hit later, the likes of Bonde De Role, MIA and Diplo at the helm. While Tetine didn’t quite get the credit that they deserved once the media dust settled around the global baile funk craze, they’ve hardly been idle in the intervening years, continuing to release music, exhibit art films and create performance pieces. Indeed, since Bruno Verner and Eliete Mejorado first founded Tetine in 1995 in Sao Paulo, they’ve explored a breadth of sound ranging from atonal orchestral pieces, through to punk and baile funk / miami bass driven electro, the latter genres likely to be the ones most readers would associate them with.
The duo’s relocation to the UK in 2000 saw them expanding their audience through European touring and links with the Soul Jazz label, and while they haven’t released a new album since 2012’s ‘In Loveland With You’, both Verner and Mejorado continue to broadcast their Slum Dunk radio show each week on London’s Resonance FM, which focuses on obscure Brazilian music. As its title suggests, this download-only compilation ‘Queer And Mutant Funk Cuts’ collects together 13 tracks from the duo’s backcatalogue recorded during the years 2000-2005, following their relocation to the UK. What’s particularly apparent upon listening to this collection is just how well most of these tracks have dated over the past decade, particularly because many of the production styles being explored here still remain influences du jour amongst mainstream hiphop and urban artists – the likes of Nicki Minaj being just one big commercial name to benefit from an injection of Miami Bass.
Delightfully sleazy opener ‘L.I.C.K. My Favela’ succeeds in fusing Kraftwerkian electro grooves with tumbling carioca funk percussion, Verner’s boisterously shouty MC flow adding a sense of punky chaos amidst the writhing beats and buzzing bass synths as Mejorado interjects with her Poly Styrene-esque vocal delivery, while ‘Zero Zero Cinco Cinco’ sees the punky influences rising even further to the forefront as wiry guitar scrapes lock in against the rattling drum machines, Verner’s impassioned Brazilian lyrics and noodling bass synths, in what’s easily the most raw, garage rock-tinged offering here. Elsewhere, ‘Safadinha’ sees the duo opting for a more house-centred delivery as 4/4 kickdrums and handclaps power away beneath zapping carnival-esque synths and bass buzzes, Mejorado’s teasing multitracked vocals seemingly barely maintaining their grip as the jacking rhythms rattle away.
It’s the streamlined ‘Ele e Loiro’ though that offers up what was easily my favourite moment here as breakdance electro 808 rolls merge with icy synth pads and Verner’s seemingly stream of consciousness flow, the collision between his falsetto chorus hooks and the dramatic electronics suggesting Anthony Rother, if he’d been dragged into one of Sao Paulo’s seedy back streets. It’s moments like these that leave you feeling like Tetine somehow paradoxically arrived too early too the electro baile funk party – a case perhaps of the cowboys getting the arrows, while the settlers get the land. While they may not be as feted as some of the other big names to emerge from that scene, this compilation more than does their queer mutant funk justice and represents an ideal entry point for new listeners.