Krishnanda :: Spiritual Quests

“O circulo da vida…De onde viemos e o que ainda somos na escala” .

These words can be found on the cover of “Krishnanda”, meaning “The circle of life…Where we came from, and what we are still on the scale”. Written circularly, around an image of a gorilla while a Neanderthal watches him.

Our species have an endless hunger for knowledge. For as long as we have been around, we have sought to uncover the mysteries of our existence using whatever tools have been available to us. Observation, storytelling or music was among the first of those tools. Origin stories attempt to explain who we are, where we came from and where we might be heading. In a way, origin stories seek to shed light on everything – each animal, plant, planet and rock that we are aware of.

I certainly do not know what Pedro Santos was thinking when he was recording Krishnanda but it’s that kind of album who talks to your mind and soul. For sure you can’t have many records that groove like this one while dealing with big questions of morality and existence.

This is an album in the truest sense of the word – a spiritual, psychedelic Brazilian masterpiece from begging to end – honored by everyone from Seu Jorge and Kassin to Floating Points, Madlib, Quantic, Gilles Peterson and DJ Nuts.

Pedro Santos born in 1919, in Rio. He was a highly spiritual man, regarded as a philosopher by many. A percussionist, composer and inventor of instruments that apparently included oddities such as the Tamba (electrified bamboo drum) and the mouth berimbau whistle. Nicknamed as ‘Sorongo’ after the rhythm he invented, which appears throughout Krishnanda.

He worked with great artists including Baden Powell, Elis Regina, Maria Bethany, Elza Soares, Sebastião Tapajós, Roberto Ribeiro, Milton Nascimento, Clara Nunes and Arthur Verocai, playing on his legendary self-titled album and Paul Simon’s LP, The Rhythm Of The Saints.

Pedro “Sorongo” Santos, TV Appearance, circa 1962​

Krishnanda came out in 1968 on CBS, Brazil and it’s the only solo work from Pedro Santos. It was produced by Tamba Trio’s drummer Helcio Milito (same year he produced Orquestra Afro-Brasileira’s second album, another holy grail worth checking out) and arranged by Joppa Lins (codenamed Pacheco Lins ). Musically diversity of the album is huge, there are many types of percussions, horn arrangements from samba rhythms, Latin and Eastern almost the same time. Animal sounds, an ambience of a forest, a psychedelic organ, a guitar with similar to a zither, xylophones, cuica, other regional elements and handmade instruments…even slapping of water becomes the main source of percussion in track ‘Aqua Viva’.

Album touches afro-brazilian culture and folk psychedelia, plus added effects with a lyrical depth and diversity to match but never in a way that slows down its terrestrial energy. The lyrics are very poetic and transcendental and the album stands out among his contemporaries to be a concept album that features continuity and consistency. This guy was on some next level spirituality right here.

Santos’s Krishnanada despite the genius of the inventiveness of his percussive sound and the influence that it had on musicians at the time that came out, had no great impact and fell into obscurity.

Original copies are super rare to find, but Mr Bongo recently reissued this gem and set it ready for a new aural discovery…
One of the most unusual records ever made. Fantastic!