Ayrton Mugnaini Jr.’s high frivolity

Songwriter of Os Metaleiros Também Amam and other alternative satirical hits releases a compilation of 16 years in music on a CD-R

Silvio Essinger
What is MPB, today? São Paulo-born Ayrton Mugnaini Jr. Has an explanation on the song Eu Adoro MPB (Seja Lá Isso o Que For) – or "I Love MPB (Whatever That Means)" -, the opening track on Alta Frivolidade - Os Maiores Quase-Sucessos (Vol. 1, é Claro) – or "High Frivolity – The Greatest Almost-Hits (Vol. 1, Of Course)" – a compilation of his underground production that has been poorly registered between 1984 and 2000.

Songwriter with the first line-up of the group Língua de Trapo, Ayrton has conquered countless admirers with his sharp musical satire, but has enjoyed only one hit: Os Metaleiros Também Amam, or "Metal Heads also Feel Love". Ayrton explains: "I told Carlos Melo (the other Língua de Trapo songwriter) that I had written that song. So he wrote one with the same title, and his song made it into a festival." Some people celebrate the feat, but he wouldn’t go that far: "The level of the artists at that festival was so low that the song was chosen!"

Aged 43, after having made an album during the LP days (A Coragem de Ayrton Mugnaini Jr., from 1991), the journalist and MPB researcher got tired of waiting for a label and released the compilation on CD-R copies. "In one word, it’s a do-it-yourself thing", he jokes. He started the production with a simple cassette recorder – one instrument at a time, from tape to tape. The result, as expected, is as poor as possible, as noticed on songs like O Homem da Minha Vida (or "The Man of My Life") and Praga Sonora (or "Sound Plague").

"It was quite primitive, but it worked out", Ayrton says. "I have a home-studio, now." He hasn’t yet tried recording straight into the computer: "I still have to learn how to use the software." The fun part is that the recordings acquired a certain lo-fi charm. "Vanguard is a matter of latitude", he analyses. "Brazilians copy, foreigners recycle. Brazilians are poor, foreigners are lo-fi." By the way, Ayrton had Tom Zé interpret Hino da Dependência (or "Dependence Anthem") way before David Byrne "discovered" the Bahian artist. Even more curious is the enraged satire to American colonialism inspired on the infamous song We Are The World.

While success doesn’t kick in, Ayrton continues to write songs and to work on publishing projects. At the end of the day, it’s all the same, to him. "I make journalism with melody, metrics and rhymes. Anything is a subject to my music, including music", he says. Brought up between the jovem guarda, European pop, Brazilian country, Noel Rosa and bossa nova, he says that he misses the time when radio waves were democratic. Nonetheless, he is attentive even to the funk made in Rio, which he regards as "a mix of twist and rap". Ayrton is working on a funk called Tá Tudo Dominado e Nada Resolvido.

After making a CD-R for the international market, with songs made in other languages (Broken Music Spoken Here), Ayrton gets ready for a volume 2 of his anthology, to be named Do Oiapoque ao Feng Shui. The songwriter can be contacted at ayrtonmu@uol.com.br.