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Monday, October 27, 2003
From a correspondent:

A fascinating bit of history I read in Music Tech Magazine...

"Les Paul - as well as being credited as the inventor of the solid-bodied electric guitar - also invented multi-track recording. He wired up eight separate Ampex tape recorders and figured out a way to synchronise their playback. His first multi-track release was a single with the tunes "Lover" and "Brazil". It contained what sounded like bass and rhythm guitar, and an incredibly fast (for the time) guitar solo. These parts were all played on the same instrument, but recorded at different tape speeds."

This all makes me wonder new things about Brazil-the-movie (as opposed to Brazil-the-country and Brazil-the-song). It's never been clear exactly why the hell Gilliam called the movie Brazil; aside from the persistent use of the song, I don't think the word even appears anywhere in the script. This thread suggests some possibilities, but I'm not entirely convinced that it's supposed to be a look at the red-tape nightmare of the actual Brazil, since a) there's no indidication that it's Brazil whatsoever, and b) the same conditions apply equally well to the UK, and arguably to parts of America. This view is technically the standard, and the concept of "Brazil"-as-escapism lines up well with the dream sequences and/or the end of the movie.

However, doesn't the above quote suggest something more interesting? If "Brazil" was the first song released made with multi-track recording, doesn't that line up pretty well with the movie, too? It sounds like a bass, but you can't reproduce it in real life, i.e. you can't slow down the pitch of a guitar below that E without some form of mechanical assistance. So maybe it's about, too, the way the purity/naturalism of music becomes manipulated by artificial means, about the way culture (and then on to tastes and desire, etc.) can be recombinant in odd ways. But, too, it's a jury-rigged system, bursting at the seams; ways have been found to disguise this, but the synced single-tracks are still there below the surface.

And Brasillia is an artificial city, and, and...