lugar alto: colectivo futurecast 073

We travel to Brazil for episode 73 of our futurecast, which comes from the hands and ears of João Visconde, co-founder of the excellent new(ish) reissue label Lugar Alto. Focusing on a lesser known side of Brazilian music, the label’s first two releases offer a glimpse into the world of obscure and underground experiments from talented musicians who have been criminally neglected by a wider public. In the span of nearly 60 minutes João delves into some of those unknown nuggets from his home country as well as other influential music from around the world. Have a listen and a read below.

CF: How and where was the mix recorded?

The mix was elaborated using 2 turntables and 1 mixer. This set-up is located at my apartment in São Paulo.

CF: How did you initially get involved in music? How did that interest progress to starting your own record label?

Music has always played an important role in my parents’ house. My mother always enjoyed welcoming friends and family and the soundtrack responsible for livening up these moments was always samba and MPB. My father also had his part for my involvement with music. From his side, I listened to funk and synth-pop, from The Brothers Johnson to Talk Talk.

As a teenager, my taste in music started to become more of my own, and I remember really appreciating music when as I was playing video games with my cousins. The sound effects and the songs on Playstation 2 and GameCube were an important part of my gaming experience. Also, I used to take english lessons with Andy, he was a curator for Sónar in Barcelona in the 1990s and his taste in music was completely different from the people in my social circle. My English lessons ended up becoming more about music and its different styles than about learning the language itself.

It was a natural progression to start Lugar Alto, the idea grew as I was immersed myself in music. I have always kept up with the record labels I admire and dreamed of doing something similar in Brazil.

CF: Tell us about Lugar Alto, what made you start the label and what is the concept behind it?

The idea of cataloguing and compiling music was always part of my everyday routine. When I was younger, I would create hypothetical compilations, trying different ways of mapping genres in my mind. I used to burn some CDs and blog about music on a website only I read, haha.

In 2015, I first heard the brilliant electroacoustic record “Estórias para Voz, Instrumentos Acústicos e Eletrônicos” by Jocy de Oliveira, recorded in 1981. I was intrigued by the music, it was so different from everything I had heard on the Brazilian music spectrum, and not only that, but it was practically impossible to find a copy. I thought it would be a good way to start a record label. I exchanged some emails with Jocy but the project ended up not working out. Some time later, I saw Blume had reissued the record. This brought me a lot of joy to see that the project had come to fruition and it gave me an even greater desire to start Lugar Alto.

It was just in 2018 that I came across “Homenagem” by Leonardo V. Boccia. It was such a beautiful surprise and filled me with the same sentiments I had felt when I heard Jocy’s album. I contacted the artist and his willingness to work together was the push to start the label. This was done very independently, I didn’t really have any connections in music, yet somehow, in the end, it worked out, much to my satisfaction. Knowing how privileged I am to work with these artists makes me disciplined and detail oriented, their work deserves this type of treatment. Today we have reissued 2 records and a third project is in the works.

CF: From looking at your first 2 releases and your website, it’s clear the visual element is very important for you. Who designed the look of Lugar Alto and why is that a key element for the label?

I believe that a record label should own an aesthetic that subtly intertwines all its releases. The idea is that Lugar Alto should have an ethereal theme, somewhat heavenly, which for me is a recurring experience listening to Brazilian music.

The logo and identity of the label I first developed together with my friend and artist Luisa Alcântara. This process was over some nights accompanied by some whiskey, haha. It was done simultaneous to the production of “Homenagem”. Luisa is also responsible for the artwork of the LP labels.

For our second reissue, Zé Eduardo Nazário’s “Poema da Gota Serena” we joined forces with the prolific São Paulo design studio, Sometimes Always, they understood the concept of the label extremely well. With them we hope to create a long partnership to ensure the consistency and visual homogeneity of Lugar Alto.

Our site was designed and programmed by our friends at Fluxo.

CF: From the outside, it seems like there’s a lot going on musically in Brazil at the moment, there’s a lot of new and great music being released. What is your take on the scene from the inside?

I am actually not that immersed in the scene, my bedtime doesn’t allow it, haha. However, there is of course a very interesting movement occurring in Brazil. I think that the right wing government that came to power during the latest election somehow enriched the underground, which is more critical when it comes to being outspoken against the more conservative trains of thought that are increasingly present. Additionally, I think the Brazilian people are creative by nature, keeping interesting and expressive manifestations alive and recurring.

CF: What do you normally listen to at home? What are 3 of your favourite albums past or present?

I usually dive into a sort of theme or aesthetic and stay there for a while. In the last 2 years I’ve been listening to a lot of Brazilian music, from 80’s jazz to post-punk and ambient music. About my favorite albums, it’s hard to narrow it down, but the first 3 that come to mind are (in no particular order):

Talk Talk – Laughing Stock (Verve Records, 1991)

The Other People Place – Lifestyles of the Laptop Café (Warp, 2001)

DJ Sprinkles – Midtown 120 Blues (Mule Musiq, 2009).

CF: What’s your favourite thing about living in São Paulo? What would you recommend to someone visiting for 24h?

São Paulo can be complicated, like anywhere else, but if you get the hang of it, it is a good place to live. Eating here is amazing, we have enormous varieties of food and cuisine. In the neighborhoods of Liberdade and Paraíso it’s possible to feast on authentic Asian food. Another thing I enjoy is to have a beer in any bar in the city, but this is the type of thing I would love to do in any Brazilian city. Bars in Brazil have a unique dynamic. At night I sometimes stop by Veneno, São Paulo’s dearest online radio, run by my friend and partner at Lugar Alto, Rafa Toledo. I also go to the audiophile bar Caracol for drinks and good music. It’s also worth checking out the many record shops in the city center!

CF: Where can people find out more info about the label and upcoming releases?

You can find more details on Lugar Alto accessing our site and Bandcamp.