New theory claims Banksy is Massive Attack’s frontman

Robert 3D Del Naja from Massive Attack could well be the man behind the extensive work of Banksy, according to a British investigative journalist.

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It’s midnight and the huge concert hall by Lisbon’s river Tagus welcomes another concert by Massive Attack, 20 years after their first gig in this city in this very same festival SuperBock SuperRock. Assisted by the Young Fathers, who joined the band in a couple of songs, their performance is marked by strong messages displayed in huge letters on an electronic billboard.  Most of this written content is political, focused on the refugee problem, on Brexit and on other problems afflicting the world, along with some messages prepared for the occasion to greet, and amuse, the locals in this concert hall. Political statements have always been there since this band was formed, starting with the name Massive Attack, a clear reference to the attacks during the first Gulf War. After a first album of mellow and danceable melodies and a second rather pop album they joined the dark side on the third album, adopting a sound that would bring us closer to dark new-punk soundscapes. These dark and intense sounds would continue on the ensuing albums featuring the voice of “broke best star” Robert 3D Del Naja on most of the tracks. But if the sound changed the same cannot be said of the band’s lyrics, composed by the band or cleverly picked from the huge vault of pop history and recorded with new musical arrangements. “Safe from harm”, “A prayer for England”, “False Flags” or “The hunter gets captured by the game” are just some examples of Massive Attack’s critical view on current political and social affairs.

In light of the band’s political and social engagement the news on the possibility of Banksy and Robert Del Naja being the same person make perfect sense. To justify his claim and according to the Daily Mail investigative journalist Craig Williams went to great lengths trying to prove it. He began by joining the dots starting with the fact that both Banksy and Del Naja  come from Bristol, a city where the latter was apparently the first known graffiti artist. According to the article on the Daily Mail Del Naja admitted to being friends with Banksy. The very same article is illustrated with a graph showing the places where Massive Attack played and where in the very same period Banksy graffitis were spotted as pointed out by Craig Williams. Should Robert Del Naja be Banksy himself of the leader of a group or artists signing under the name Banksy well congratulations on the job both as frontman of Massive Attack and as the man painting the front of building with beautiful and sharp images. Trendenz will take to the streets of Lisbon looking for eventual Banksy graffitis after the most recent Massive Attacks visit to Lisbon. Who knows we will be able to prove Craig Williams is right.

Carlos Tomé Sousa

 

Bye bye Brazil

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The clichés we have associated with autocratic regimes materialised and came back to haunt the country. The social project that was there to try to put an end to inequality appears to have been cancelled. The future does not bode well for Brazil.  

It’s 2001 and I am landing for the first time in Brazil. One of my best friends had been in the country for some years teaching English and visiting him before he moved back to Europe presented a good opportunity to know the place. I got on the plane in early June and landed in Recife on a warm night at 9 P.M. My British friend and his girlfriend picked me up at the airport and we got on the car. On the way to the city centre modest and poor houses made of wood dotted the lanscape. That is the first image i had of Brazil, far from the postcard image of the country we see in travel agencies. But then again it was nothing new. Airports are usually located in the outskirts where lack of urban planning is commonplace in many countries. I went to bed exhausted and woke up the next day eager to see the view from my friends’ third floor in that central neighborhood of Madalena, Recife. Trees, lots of trees, buildings and small shacks between them marked the landscape. I left the building past a first guardian and then past a second guardian and had my first contact with a local, a boy throwing stones at a tree to collect some fruit I could not identify, something like a huge walnut. I would see him later that day and everyday selling these nuts by the traffic lights. In a country where people experienced difficulties nature was being generous here. He was probably a regular as he was greeted by his first name by the people entering and leaving the huge building on the other side of the street. Dozens of people I later identified as servants, maids and cleaning ladies walked in and out the building while those I later identified as their bosses left the building in fancy cars. I learned that having a maid or servant or cleaning lady was extremely cheap and should you have a nice salary by European standars you could afford having the whole package. I got on a taxi and took to the beach. Along the boardwalk, sided by huge buildings with penthouses, men and women with fit bodies and fashionable running gear engaged in a number of leisure and sports activities. I got a chair in a designated area deemed safe for western tourists si I was told an advised. I had a swim and spent the day at the beach drinking bear and eating what was being offered, from bean soup shots to pineapple through oysters and the lot being sold by people from the nearby favelas. The rich and well-off on one side and armies of people selling all kinds of things for 1 real, catering for their leisure needs. How nice and typicall and convenient. I would be back here to Boa Viagem on a number of occasions, mostly to the shopping centre where the affluent people of the city seemed to spend the day, buying European and American clothes and shoes and accessories at triple the price. And I would come back to this area to visit some people, being stopped every time by man with a shotgun guarding the building. These concrete fortress were the preserve of the white, dominant Brazilian and such wealthy living conditions and riches had to be protected.

The next day I decided to explore the city centre. The human landscape was entirely different. Most of the people had a darker completion and came from the small towns around, shopping for food and clothing. Others had settled here looking for a job, far from their arid lands where opportunities lacked. The city centre was a vivid melting pot of people from nearly all walks of life. I later learned that the affluent people were scared to come here or simply avodied the place. And so therefore the streets of this city with broad avenues, where huge buildings reminiscent of the Dutch colonialization combined with typical Portuguese houses, were there for the common citizen to enjoy, while the rich and affluent and the tourists were left only with one avenue guarded by armed policemen on either side. In a country with a big class divide the common people had the most beautiful part of town for them, despite the number of derelict buildings that, should they be renovated and painted would make Recife one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Mango beat was a great booming culture at the time, attracting those wishing to dig deep in their roots and popular culture, It was one of the most interesting phenomena, combining tribal beats, traditional sounds from the northeast and electronic music. After samba, bossa nova and other popular sounds here was a sound that cleverly combined tradition and technology. I liked that mix and felt like digging deep in these roots, which I did when i learned to dance a tribal like dance called caco at a loal party. The next two weeks were spent exploring the city and around, thanks to the curiosity and openness of my British friend whose characteristic I cherish the most is his capacity to adapt to local cultures discovering the best in them. Thanks to him I walked without fear everywhere; I drank in small street bars and had cookies made by big black ladies in white in Olinda, went to parties whose hosts owned half the land around, travelled in taxis and combis and danced in popular parties in the city centre. I had three weeks of fun, met nice people and learned the ways of the place. And I could go on and on. The place was beautiful, the landscape was fantastic and the people were friendly. It could be paradise. But it was clearly not. There was something that I could close my eyes to, it was there all the time. The  social divide was huge and I just could not pretend it was not there. And it is still there. The country was extremely unfair. It had rich or poor, practically no middle class and there i was, a  true champagne and beer socialist at a time for three weeks. It’s been fifteen years now since I was there for the first time. I got to know more Brazilians in Europe during these years and in recent times the tale being told and the news that came out spoke of a country that was fighting poverty. Brazil was showing a new face. Brazilians from modest families were not travelling anymore to the first world just to work as waiters, there was a growing number of people who were now studying in European univesites after having had the chance to study in local universities in their hometowns. Things seemed to be changing and planes were no longer flying upper class Brazilians alone. People from nearly all walks of life were now could travel or buy electric appliances. The  middle was slowly becoming a reality and 40 million people had been taken out of poverty. In light of this I began considering the possibility of going back to witness it and I even booked a ticket. But in the light of recent events, I fear I will be faced soon with a greater social divide. By the time you read this the president of the country will probably be out of the job for good, after having stood there tall and proud in a macabre trial, abandoned to a great extent by her people and by the international community that once praised her . After the sad events all the clichés we have associated with autocratic regimes will materialise and come back to haunt the country. The social project that was there to try put an end to inequality appears to have been cancelled and in the light of it I cancelled my ticket until further notice. Bye bye Brazil!

Carlos Tomé Sousa

Out and about in Lisbon

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Lisbon is definitely the place to visit. The global village of the moment considering the number of foreigners from all walks of life flocking here.

The best way to arrive in Lisbon is by plane and we recommend the national airline, the best in the world, now partly owned by a Brazilian, but such is life in the capitalist world..
Taxi is the best option to arrive in the city centre and the cost of a ride in a Mercedes driven by a local is around 10 euros. Despite some bad publicity and the voices from the competition, most of the drivers are nice.
Should you prefer the metro take the red line to Alameda and change to the green line. Once on the platform make sure you walk all the way to the front otherwise you will be forced to join the stampede of foreign tourists running along the platform to reach the wagons, a funny show, courtesy of the Metro administration.
When in the city centre, drag your trolley uphill to your hotel or rented apartment. Make sure you arrive early in the morning or late at night and that your trolley is loud enough. By waking up neighborhood you will have had your revenge for having to run like mad with grandma along the metro platform.
Put on your sports shoes and walk out the door to the nearest café. Be a local and have an expresso, the best way to start the day. Three a day will keep you up and running and awake. Pastries are tempting and go well with it. Do not worry about the number of calories in each custard, you will lose them quickly going up and down the hills.
I hope you have improved your French. You will need it to greet the French now living in the city centre.
Be nice to your neighbor waving at you by the castle walls. He is here too with his family. And so is your boss, your schoolmates and your distant cousin. Grab a piece of paper and start counting the number of locals you have seen so far.
Lisbon is a modern city and ladies with moustaches, men with army tattoos and children with rotten shoes are quite rare these days here, hence make sure you have your camera ready.
Restaurants and cafés serve lunch at affordable prices nearly everywhere. But you may wish to try also the new sensation in town – gourmet food courts. The Portuguese are very fond of shopping centres and spend a great deal of time in them. Probably with that in mind the city now offers a number of food courts in local markets and historic buildings operated mostly by kids from well-off families. Prices are higher in these places and the quality of the food is generally good, prepared by renowned chefs, a new phenomenon in the country – the country now has more chefs than tram drivers.
Tram 28 is highly overrated. For your information I believe there are only half a dozen of them, hence put some sun block and get ready to wait for a while in the sun. If you are lucky enough to find a seat open the window and enjoy the breeze. Otherwise you will find yourself trapped and squeezed in a small tram whose final destination is a cemetery. No kidding. Once you get there visit The Cemetery of Pleasures, a curious name for the most beautiful graveyard in the city.
Visit the residential neighborhoods and the local shops and restaurants where the attendants and waiters, contrary to Spain, will make the effort to speak you language.
Book a table after 8. I know it is 7 P.M. and you are now thinking of dinner. But forget it. Take to a terrace and have a drink before that. Locals only go out for dinner at 9 and before that you will only find foreigners… and you neighbors.
Fado is ok but it can be also a saddening bore. The melody is fine. As for the lyrics, thank God you don’t understand the words. If you do not wish to get depressed don’t have them translated.
Buy shoes while you are here and the next time your boss tells you Italian shoes are better kick his royal ass with your fine leather shoes made in Portugal.
Have a nice haircut. Hairdressers and barbers are now in full fashion in Lisbon. It’s a highly competitive sector and prices start at €4.5.
Take to the beach. You probably didn’t realise but there are dozens of beaches around and it is fairly easy to reach them by bus, train or car. The water is not as warm as in the Mediterranean, but then again who wants to swim in a bowl of soup.
If you wish to stay know that there are lots of advantages for you: if you have half a million to spend we will grant you the right to stay as long as you like. 🙂

Carlos Tomé Sousa

Lisbon takes center stage in the art world

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ARCO, one the most renowned art fairs in the world, hosts its first edition ever outside Spain, in the neighboring town of Lisbon, Portugal. From May 26 to May 29, 45 galleries from 8 countries will show the work of their featured artists at ARCOLisboa.

The long building that stretches parallel to the river and that was there in the old days to make long ropes for the ships crossing the oceans is the privileged location for the first ever edition of ARCO outside Madrid and away from the grounds of Madrid International Trade Fair. The hosting of the first international venture or ARCOMadrid in Portugal comes in at a time when Lisbon is taking center stage as one of the privileged destinations for both tourism and investment. While thousands flock to this city mostly in low cost flights and seeking accommodation in fancy and cheap hostels, others land in Lisbon looking for attractive real estate deals, particularly Chinese and French. As for the latter, recent figures point out for more than 25.000 French who decided to buy a home in Portugal. Affluent Brazilians, Angolans and the thousands that arrive in cruise ships add to this multicultural landscape.

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In light of this ARCO, an art fair that is there to showcase the work of artists from the entire world and to act as a platform for deals in the art world, probably did the right thing choosing Lisbon for its first ever even outside Spain. Another important factor that will contribute for the success of ARCOLisboa is the huge popularity of this art fair in Portugal. For decades, thousands of Portuguese have been taking to ARCOMadrid to see what’s new and cool in the art world and as it would be expected the event is high on the country’s agenda.

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Aside from providing an excellent opportunity to see the work from foreign artists represented by 45 international galleries, visitors will be given the chance to see the work by Portuguese talents. And while some have their work on display at ARCO, others will have the chance to show their work to international guests. More than 100 international collectors were invited by the organisation to Lisbon, along with members from the international press, who have been invited to make the tour of a number of galleries and museums in the city.

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We took the opening of ARCO last Wednesday and wandered through the galleries of the long building of Cordoaria Nacional, admiring the work by some of the artists whose works did catch our eye, such as the compositions by Andy Goldsworthy, a British sculptor, photographer and environmentalist; Mafalda Santos’ “Carta Pras Icamiabas”, a work in printed paper and iron; the hypnotic painting “Flag” we kept coming back to; Vasco Barata’s “All Dreams Spin”; or the journey through light and shadow “Labyrinths of Passion”, by Joël Andrianomearisoa. ARCOLisboa closes on Sunday, hence come back to this article as we will update it with more relevant information in the coming days.

Carlos Tomé Sousa

The big artist with a little name.

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Prince died yesterday at the age of 57 and the whole world cries once again the loss of another artist who managed to cross so many dimensions of modern music. 

It’s August 1988, Walstadium in Frankfurt is almost packed and hundreds of people are still getting off the tram that has been taking thousands from the city’s main station to this stadium by the forest. Some had been dancing on the train that brought them all the way to Frankfurt. Special trains had been organized to bring fans from the north and the south of Germany to the gigs in Frankfurt and Dortmund, trains that felt like a discotheque, and thousands had been partying for hours. While I wait, I look around at the crowd. And what a crowd! There was a bit of everything: new punks and rockers, disco queens and poppers, blacks, white, yellow, GI Joes by the thousands from the nearby American bases, street kids and rich kids and nearly all the youth cultures you could think of, all ready to take off. The place felt a bit like an American Indian camp, a big pow wow, a modern-day Woodstock with a high level of extravaganza. I had never seen anything like it. No one looked like the other, everybody had something special, odd, original, groovy on. By making dance music with such a big degree of groove, sexiness, mastery and rhythm, with power drums and lengthy guitar solos, street beats and great lyrics he appealed to all music lovers from all side of the music fences. His persona and his looks, both vibrant and sexy, and his sexy motherfucking appeal, did the rest. Prince was not a disco star, nor a rock star, nor a pop star. Prince was just that, He was musical cross dresser who managed to touch all music dimensions of modern music. And that concert was there to prove it.

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The party mood was there. And when the first lights were fired and Prince showed up in a huge American pink cabrio the crowd just went mad. “Housequake” was one the first songs of the gig, a true earthquake of rhythm assisted by Prince’s guitar riffs and the powerful drums of Sheila E, the sexy drummer who would drive the crowd mad for the duration of the concert with her drumming. There we were dancing at a concert by a black funk star with all the typical elements of a rock concerts, from the riffs to the drumming. This explained to a great extent the huge diversity of the crowd. In 1988 Prince’s was at its was peak and in ten years he had released his best and grooviest songs, a bit like the late David Bowie who passed away this year and whose main body of work was composed also in one decade. Prince’s first album was released in 1978 and recognistion would come one year after with his new LP and the track “I feel for you”, a song later covered by Chaka Khan in 1984.  But the record that set the tone and quick fired him to stardom was 1999”, released in 1982 and which featured the powerful song “1999”, one of his best tunes ever. Two years after “Purple Rain” was there and did the rest consolidating his career thanks to the powerful “Let’s Go Crazy” and “When Doves Cry” and most notably “Purple Rain” the song most people think of when they think of the small prince from Minneapolis. The man was unstoppable and one year after more was to come and a handful of hits, contained in the album “Around the world in a Day”: “Pop Life”, “Raspberry Beret”, “Around the “World in a Day”, “Tamborine”. In 1986 another big hit would catapult him once again. “Parade” had just been launched and “Kiss” was the song being aired everywhere, a song and a video clip of overt sexiness no one could be indifferent to. “Girls and Boys”, sexy and daring was another, along with the beautiful “Sometimes snows in April” the title used by the world media these days as the headline to the news of his tragic passing this April. Death was a sad reality in the mid-eighties and thousands were dying because of hard drugs and a disease with a little name. This was the motto for “Sign of the times” from the eponymous album launched in 1987 and his most coherent album with some of his best songs from “Starfish and Coffee” to “Sign of the Times” through “The Cross” or “If I was your girlfriend” just to name a few of the 16 great tracks contained in the album. In 1988 he launched “Lovesexy”, the album he was promoting at this concert in Frankfurt. But most of the people had been drawn to this stadium to listen to the magnificent “Sign of the Times” and to the the great body of work he released from 1978 to 1988. Prince died yesterday at the age of 57 and the whole world acclaims him as one of the best artists ever in modern music. After this concert I saw him 10 years after in Lisbon where, after his gig, he invited us to see him live again on that very same night at the city’s best club in town, Lux. Fifteen years after I saw him again in Lisbon. But the German gig will remain in forever in my memory. I had seen that huge small artist at the peak of his career.

Carlos Tomé Sousa