The "DJ" in DJ Dolores 'name is deceiving: there's very little in the music of this Brazilian producer that's either turntable-based or immediately "electronic" in the conventional sense of the term. Instead, the Recife-based musician and his collaborators piece together Northern Brazilian styles like forró with scraps of dub, drum 'n bass and, well, whatever else happens to be at hand. Despite the technological underpinnings of the music — and you don't get maelstroms of beats and delay as billowing as "Mutant Child" without a fair amount of processing power — there's a pleasantly lo-fi feel to much of 1 Real; at times it feels like a Brazilian counterpart to the Latin Playboys 'self-titled 1994 border-hopping classic, while songs like "Proletariado" recall the desert blues of the late Malian guitarist Ali Farka Touré.
Like M.I.A.'s Kala, 1 Real — the title refers to a lone unit of Brazil's currency, worth less than an American dollar — turns globalization on its head, playing to a universalized experience of poverty and making a virtue out of necessity. (The album's spit-and-chewing-gum aesthetic reportedly stems from Brazil's burgeoning market in shoddily produced bootleg CDs.) But that doesn't mean that there's anything naïve about the record, which is split evenly between proper songs and eccentric mood pieces. The former feature strange, modal melodies with loping rhythms — sweet, yet bananas like Tom Zé at his most charming. And the studio experiments, like the hypnotic "The Mind Inspector," make the most out of minimal elements like wheezing accordion, a rusted guitar pickup, and a pocket-sized idea — in this case, a nagging voice asking, "Do you love me?" — allowed to roam free.