All songs written and composed by Lucas Santtana except
What's Life - Lucas Santtana / Lynn Margulis
Errare Humanum Est - Jorge Ben
Muita Pose, Pouca Yoga - Lucas Santtana / Daniel Lisboa
The Fool on the Hill - Lennon / Mc cartney
All songs arranged by Lucas Santtana except
La Biosphere, A transmissão, Vamos Ficar na Terra, Muita Pose, Pouca Yoga, arranged by Lucas Santtana and Frédéric Soulard
No Interior de Tudo, The Fool on the Hill arranged by Lucas Santtana and Laurent Bardainne
Errare Humanum Est arranged by Laurent Bardainne
All songs published by Nø Førmat! Except
Errare Humanum Est published by Von Lehmann
The Fool on the Hill published by Maclen Music Ltd, Northern Songs Ltd
Produced by Frédéric Soulard and Lucas Santtana
Guitars and percussions recorded at Labomatic Studios by Bénédicte Schmitt
All horns recorded at Studio 12 Ter by Sebastien Tondo
Vibraphone, Synths, Celesta, Rhodes, Glass Harmonica recorded at Studio Méchant by Frédéric Soulard
Lucas Vocals recorded at Studio Méchant by Frédéric Soulard
Flavia Coelho Vocals recorded at Vagh & Weinmann Studio by Victor-Attila Vagh
Flore Benguigui vocals recorded at at Studio Méchant by Frédéric Soulard
Les Petits Chanteurs d'Asnières recorded at Studio 12 ter by Frédéric Soulard
Mixed by Frederic Soulard assisted by Léo Nivot at Studio Méchant, Paris, France
Mastered by Chab at Chab Mastering, Paris, France
Executive production and A&R - Laurent Bizot
Artwork - Jérôme Witz
Design - Element(s)
(P) et ©2023, Nø Førmat!
The Bahian artist Lucas Santtana’s ninth solo album, O Paraiso, urges us, in ten songs, to modify our line of thought: Paradise exists, right here, right now. It might be wounded but it’s still showing signs of life. We’re responsible for its long term survival, and also, partly, for its constant metamorphosis. Though gentle and full of inventive sonic touches, this is a militant record that mixes Brazilian music with jazz and electronica.
Brazil still exudes a fantasy of mystery and paradise to the rest of the world, just like the one described as far back as the 16th century in the stories of the German adventurer Hans Staden, or the one we see in the work of the 19th century French painter Félix-Émile Taunay - a vision of Eden that Brazilians later transposed to their way of playing the guitar. Lucas Santtana took inspiration from that vision, realising that the feeling of beauty it encompassed was, in fact, universal.
Every time we go on holiday to a place of extreme beauty, deep in nature, the phrase this is paradise takes hold of us. Intuitively, we see planet Earth as a place of wonder. And even though this premise has been thoroughly dented by the rise of an economic model based on the extraction of natural resources, it remains fundamentally true. Santtana has built this opus around it: Paradise is already here (O Paraiso jà é acqui), so let’s stop the descent into hell.
O Paraiso took shape ‘during the pandemic,’ Santtana explains. Such a hitch in human history was never going to quietly circumvent this son of Bahia, the capital of Afro-Brazilian religious syncretism, with its gods and goddesses who control water, thunder, forest and sea. ‘It was like a message sent to us by the animal kingdom in the face of a suffocation that has now long been foretold. The floods, fires, droughts, tsunamis, delayed monsoons, melting glaciers and oil spills are all alarm bells that we don’t want to hear.’ How many maydays need to be sent before our eyes are opened, asks Lucas in a delicate song called A Transmissão (The Transmission).
Continuing as he always does to treat grave subjects with a joyful elegance, Santtana put O Paraiso together with a light touch, allowing himself to open out in places where emotions are shaped by the flow of life, (as in ‘Sobre La Memoria’, sung in Spanish). Santtana read The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells, with its description of hell at +4°C and might well have allowed himself to go to pieces as a result. But instead, he transformed drama into hope, counterbalancing despair with his reading of the Italian philosopher Emmanuelle Coccia, author of Metamorphoses: “Every being is a metamorphosis, from gestation to our nutrition. All life is metamorphic; it traverses identities and worlds without ever succumbing to passivity.”
Lucas Santtana tries to uncover the source of our afflictions, all the better to fight them. The first calamity is “avidity” or rapacious greed, which, married to “Mr Consumption”, has given birth to plenty of children “all of whom call themselves deceased.” ‘I’d like to say to Elon Musk that it’s stupid to want to go to Mars when we have the immense possibility of living on the only habitable planet on the solar system…’ (‘Vamos Ficar Na Terra’). But rather than putting the brakes on all this frenzy, the concupiscent, the agro-industrialists, the manufacturers of advanced technology accelerate the fall with their lies. And now it’s decision time: live more or die already, a question posed in the song ‘Biosphere’, performed in French with the band Les Petits Chanteurs from Asnières.
We should be listening to the shamans, Santtana sings, the indigenous people, the ones who are really civilised. ‘Man can never be master of a nature that’s outside of him.’ Among these ten ‘organic’ songs, there are two covers that serve Santtana’s purpose. One, ‘Errare Humanum Est’, is a meditation on our cosmic origins composed by Jorge Ben in 1974, which the young Brazilian guard - Seu Jorge, Rodrigo Amarante - has also taken to its heart. The other, sung with Flore Benguigui from the band L’Imperatrice, is Paul MacCartney’s ‘The Fool on the Hill’, first released in 1967, a time when the Beatles were exploring the power of shamans who possess the ‘third eye’, the one that allows us to see the invisible. And to further illuminate the presence of Flavia Coelho (‘Muita Pose’, ‘Pouca Yoga’) over a touch of pagoda, a popular rhythm from Salvador de Bahia.
Santtana, with his suave voice and gentle guitar, already used electronic sampling and atmospheres in the past (on O Deus Que Dévasta Mas Tam Ben Cura in 2012, Sobre Noites e Dias in 2014, Modo Aviao in 2017), before returning to the simplicity of guitar-voice in O Ceu E Velho Ha Muito Tempo in 2019. O Paraiso collates all these approaches, widening the existential question from ‘Who am I?’ To ‘Where am I?’
The album was recorded in Paris, ‘with musicians who just happened to be there’. That’s a first. There’s Fred Soulard (piano, keyboards, production); there’s the Brazilian percussionist Zé Luis Nascimento; the French cellist Vincent Segal; the saxophonist Laurent Dardainne (Tigre d’eau douce, Poni Hoax) and a wind section comprising Remi Scuito and Sylvain Bardiau, all of them masters of musical subtlety, of small impressionist touches using drums, marimba, brass, synthesisers, strings…
O Paraiso was an opportunity ‘to change our cultural references,’ says Santtana. ‘Brazilians have never had to play a hegemonic role, because Brazil has never been a country of mediation. Rather, my country has always afforded an opportunity for coexistence. But when the far-right came to power in 2018, conflict became a mode of governance.
The struggle to safeguard Amazonia has become an essential one, defining the conditions for the survival of all those who inhabit that blue biosphere known as the earth.’
Born 1970 in Salvador de Bahia, son of Roberto Sant’Ana, legendary producer of the Tropicalistas (Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso and Santtana’s uncle, Tom Zé), Lucas Santtana was called upon by his elders to play on Tropicalia 2 and Gilberto Gil Unplugged, before braving the electro-rock of Chico Science and Naçao Zumbi (Manguetown). In 2000, he released his first album, Eletro Ben Dodô, whilst continuing to write songs for the stars of MPB, from Marisa Monte to Daniela Mercury, Céu etc.
In 2011, Lucas Santtana made his mark in Europe with the help of the British label Mais Um Disco! Who introduced the artist to DJ Gilles Peterson’s and his BBC radio programme Worldwide. In 2014, Santtana signed to the French label No Format! Who helped him to gain access to the Francophone world.
LUCAS SANTTANA / KYOTO
LUCAS SANTTANA / KYOTO - CLUB WORLD
LUCAS SANTTANA / KYOTO
LUCAS SANTTANA / ZURICH - CALIENTE FESTIVAL
LUCAS SANTTANA / PISA - MUSICASTRADA
LUCAS SANTTANA / SETE - FIESTA'SÈTE (+ GILBERTO GIL)