Words by Howard Male
Folksy yet modern: the perfect antidote to bland bossa
There’s something about the off-kilter charm of the music of north-east Brazil that can sometimes be more appealing than the bombast of the samba or the oh-so-tasteful purring of a coffee-table bossa nova. This is one of those instances. These four guys, helped by US producer Maga Bo, really know what they’re doing when it comes to integrating electronic effects and contemporary keyboard sounds with more traditional instrumentation such as the accordion and viola. Take the Tom Zé-ish track ‘Xote Natural’ on this, their eponymously-titled debut album. The accordion is central but the tough, muscular breakbeat behind it is a subtle mesh of the programmed and the live. This tune also features an appealing little rap from Flavia Coelho adding hip-hop icing to the cake. But such elements of fusion are subtle – for example the undertow of tango on ‘Vale Do Juca’ that brings to mind Gotan Project without ever impinging on the band’s own core identity.
Sound effects are added sparingly and intelligently, never scuppering the natural flow of the music, and the songs are strong, their hooks stay in your head. I should imagine this will end up my favourite Brazilian album this year. Lovely stuff.