Muito obrigado to Alexandra for reaching the brink of near deafness with me and surviving to tell the tale.  Yes I saw windows shake.  Who says favela architecture is precarious if it can withstand the sonic onslaught every weekend while IPHAN declares a meticulous building that took four years to construct too fragile for subfrequencies?  Maybe the real precarity is in the formal city.

Building sound systems is its own architectural gesture too, especially with the elbow room of a big downtown square, a far cry from the tight squeeze of a favela’s improvised public spaces.  Turned on its side, Furacão 2000’s speakerboxes look like they would tower above downtown Rio’s citadel to petroleum, the Petrobrás tower lurking behind in all its sinister, cut rectangular prism glory.

In fact, the vertical architecture of downtown actually served as a sonic prism, trapping in the sound waves that just about made themselves visible — from the shaking window to my vibrating Coke can to the blurry vision when I was trapped in the ricochet effect of speakers against building.  Sonic Warfare indeed. (more…)

“UPP filho da puta!” (Pacification Police you sons of bitches!) So went the refrain to nearly every funk proibidão blasting out of the walls of speakers lining the main street of the favela Mangueira on a Friday night last month in Rio de Janeiro.  Around the corner, the G.R.E.S. Primeira Estação de Mangueira, the most famous samba school in Brazil with its trademark green and pink trim (verde que te quero rosa sang Cartola, their legendary sambista), had already wrapped up its rehearsal for the evening.  The action had shifted to the jam-packed baile, a series of sound systems lining the narrow street, like a gauntlet of tamborzão.