"Muscular and precise.... a classy big band" (8/10) UNCUT
"Psych-organ vies with dub and candomble.... the energy and intelligence of the playing are irresistible" (4/5) THE GUARDIAN
A wild ride through Afrobeat & Brazilian funk where Ethio-jazz, brass bands, polyrhythmic paeans, Bootsy Collins jams and Saharan grooves combine to produce a riotous joy of stomping rhythms and horns.
Hailing from the Bixiga neighbourhood in São Paulo, Ocupai sees the band build on the sound that saw their self-titled debut album top many Brazilian tastemakers best of lists for 2011.
They combine the obvious touch points of Fela Kuti (the band's name tips a hat to the most famous incarnation of his band) and Tony Allen (with whom Mauricio Fleury from the band studied with) and bounce through boundaries to harvest textures of mandingo from Guinea and Mali, soukous from the Congo and ethio-jazz – all the while pulling in threads from the pioneers who first caught their ear; Pedro Sorongo, Os Tincoãs, Gilberto Gil, João Donato, Baden Powell, Deodato, Orchestre Poly Rythmo, Miles Davis and Lee Perry.
Having collaborated with Souljazz Orchestra, Criolo, Emicida and Banda Black Rio, the band have also shared the same stage as their heroes Antibalas, Ebo Taylor, Tony Allen, Gilberto Gil and Q-tip.
Whilst their debut album was more rooted in Afrobeat Ocupai sees them stretch their wings to cover other genres. As Maurico from the band says “We all love Afrobeat but it was never the only thing we thought of or the only thing we listened to, we always talk about rap, reggae, dub, jazz, Brazilian folk music or Hermeto Pascoal. But whether it’s Afrobeat or Malinké, it’s the African influence that draws us to it. From samba we come to Semba, from Angola. When we decided to cover ‘Tincoãs’ half of the band said it is ‘Cangira’, a genre of Candomblé. I mean, we actively try to discover other musical styles, but eventually, when you find them, you realize that they were part of your life already.”