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Music / Racional Vols

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Vol. I
Vol. II
Que beleza é saber seu nome
Sua origem, seu passado
E seu futuro
Que beleza é conhecer
O desencanto
E ver tudo bem mais claro
No escuro
- "Imunização Racional (Qué Beleza)

Tim Maia's Racional, Vols. 1 & 2, commonly known simply as the Racional Vols., are the fifth and sixth albums by Brazilian singer-songwriter Tim Maia. They were both released through his own independent record label, Seroma, in early 1975.

After the release of his previous album with Polydor, Tim received an irrefutable proposal from the label RCA to record a double album with complete artistic freedom; he would be able to choose not only repertoire, but musicians, studio and technicians. That combined with the fairly shoddy way Polydor handled his royalties from his previous record and he was re-signed to RCA little less than a month after his previous record was released in 1973.

In 1974, Tim started recording the bases of the songs in the studios of his new record company, in Rio de Janeiro. Some of the songs had lyrics already, but most of them were still just instrumental. Maia then started to visit friends who could write lyrics for the bases. On one of these visits, in late July 1974, Maia went to the home of his friend Tibério Gaspar and, as he was getting into the bath, went to the living room and took a book that was on top to read. When Gaspar got out of the bath, he found his friend enamoured with a book and Tim asked him which book was that. Tibério explained that his father attended the services of that sect that was called Cultura Racional (Rational Culture). Maia left with the book and, from that day on, the process of conversion to the doctrine began.

Maia soon converted to the cult, abandoned the drugs and red meat, and decided to write the lyrics for the songs about the knowledge contained in the book, known by the name Universo em Desencanto (Universe in Disenchantment). The record company, which was very excited about the material that was being produced, became concerned about Maia's religious turn and foresaw a fight when the record was ready. At the end of August, with the material already ready, Tim went to talk to the record company's executives. The contract provided that the singer from Rio would receive an advance to record a disc that would be purchased by the label for his national distribution. However, the label claimed that it had not been happy with the material and was not willing to buy it - in fact, executives feared the reaction of the Brazilian military dictatorship. To the record company's surprise, Maia simply took the tapes on which her double album was recorded and said she was going to press and distribute the LP himself by transforming his music publisher, Seroma, into a phonographic label.

The album was released in early 1975 by the newly christened record label Seroma, owned by Tim Maia himself. Instead of releasing a double album, as he intended, Maia decided to release two individual albums released in a relatively short timespan (Racional Vol. 2 was released within a month of Racional Vol. 1). A odd fact is that Maia did not make any distribution contract for the album, which was carried out in a amateurish manner, with few records left on consignment with stores that accepted and another part being sold during performances or even door to door by Tim and his band. Thus, the disclosure was hampered by the lack of national distribution, in addition to Maia's difficulty in selling presentations; the few he managed to make were either free or were only for members of the Racional sect. In addition, only one song from the album played on the radio, "Immunização Racional (Que Beleza)".

The album's critical response was more akin to radio silence and those who did come across it gave it negative reviews. This combined with his own personal falling out with the Racional sect, prompted Maia to attempt to erase these albums and this phase of his career from popular memory, destroying all the records that were still in his power, in addition to prohibiting re-releases and discouraged re-recording of the material by other interested artists. Despite this, the albums ended up developing a cult following, with the material being disputed by collectors and being worth good sums of money due to its rarity and quality. Thus, over time, despite Maia's own disenchantment with the records, became generally considered to be the best in his career with both records being listed in Rolling Stone Brasil's list of the 100 greatest Brazilian music records, at the 17th and 49th positions, respectively.

A archival record made up of spare songs for the records was released in 2011 named, Racional Vol. 3


Vol. 1 (Side A)

  1. "Imunização Racional (Que Beleza)" (5:08)
  2. "O Grão Mestre Varonil" (0:24)
  3. "Bom Senso" (5:08)
  4. "Energia Racional" (0:15)
  5. "Leia o Livro Universo em Desencanto" (2:50)
  6. "Contacto com o Mundo Racional" (3:06)

Vol. 1 (Side B)

  1. "Universo em Desencanto" (3:43)
  2. "You Don't Know What I Know" (0:35)
  3. "Rational Culture" (12:09)

Vol. 2 (Side A)

  1. "Quer Queira Quer Não Queira" (4:50)
  2. "Paz Interior" (2:55)
  3. "O Caminho do Bem" (6:10)
  4. "Energia Racional" (2:57)
  5. "Que Legal" (4:13)

Vol. 2 (Side B)

  1. "Cultura Racional" (4:39)
  2. "O Dever de Fazer Propaganda deste Conhecimento" (5:53)
  3. "Guiné Bissau, Moçambique e Angola Racional" (6:09)
  4. "Imunização Racional (Que Beleza)" (3:29)

Leia o Livro Universo em Tropes

  • A Cappella / Spoken Word: Although the whole of the records are essentially praising Cultura Racional's ethos and holy doctrines. Tracks like "O Grão Mestre Varonil", "Energia Racional" (Vol. 1) and "You Don't Know What I Know" are straight up Maia taking a half-sung half-spoken vocal style to explain aspects of the cult and their beliefs.
  • Book Ends: The first track of the first volume is also the last track of the second volume, with the tune rearranged to assume a form more similar to Afro-American soul than Afro-Brazilian bossa nova.
  • "Common Knowledge": "Bom Senso", which states that he achieved this once he read Universo em Desencanto:
    Já virei calçada maltratada
    E na virada quase nada
    Me restou a curtição
    Já rodei o mundo quase mudo
    No entanto num segundo
    Este livro veio à mão
    Já senti saudade
    Já fiz muita coisa errada
    Já pedi ajuda
    Já dormi na rua
    Mas lendo atingi o bom senso
    A imunização racional
  • Epic Rocking: Given the fact that most of the record's instrumentals were recorded without lyrics, it lends certain tracks and jam-like quality which adds to their length. Such as "Bom Senso", "O Caminho do Bem", "O Dever de Fazer Propaganda deste Conhecimento" and "Guiné Bissau, Moçambique e Angola Racional" all going over five minutes and "Rational Culture" clocking in at twelve.
  • Genre Buster: Although it's generally agreed to be a Soul record. The album takes cues from Reggae, samba, Bossa Nova, funk, psychedelia, Blues and even gospel given it's eclectic and spiritual nature.
  • God-Is-Love Songs: Both of the records are essentially comprised of devotional songs for the Racional cult.
  • In Harmony with Nature: "Imunização Racional (Que Beleza)" explains this as a goal of Cultura Racional:
    Que beleza é sentir a natureza
    Ter certeza pronde vai
    E de onde vem
    Que beleza é vir da pureza
    E sem medo distinguir
    O mal e o bem
  • Instrumentals: "Rational Culture"
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Averted, then played straight. Unfortunately, after the failure of the records, Tim Maia started an attempt to erase these albums and this phase of his career from popular memory, destroying all the records that were still in his power, in addition to prohibiting re-releases and discouraged re-recording of the material by other artists. Fortunately, due to the record's newfound cult status, it would re-released in future compilations such as Nobody Can Live Forever. Ultimately it received re-releases starting in 2006, with a reissue of his catalogue five years later even uncovering the third volume, which included four tracks that had circulated as illegal downloads.
  • Longest Song Goes Last: "Rational Culture" is the last song on the first volume and it's twelve minutes long.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: The consensus is that between a great band and Tim Maia's cleaner vocals after taking a break from drugs, it's musically impressive, no matter if the lyrics are preachy devotions to a cult - "Imunização Racional" is the best-known hit mostly for being the least specific to Rational Culture.
  • Rearrange the Song: "Imunização Racional (Qué Beleza)" is rearranged at the end of the second volume to assume a Afro-American soul sound.
  • Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: Notably averted with this record. As when he began associating with the cult, he stopped drinking and using drugs, something that reflected positively on the quality of the records with his voice being much clearer than usual. Even tracks like "Bom Senso" mentioned above allude to him cleaning up for the sake of Racional.