Fifteen Stunning Miniatures in Thirty Minutes
Imagine being a young musician in Brazil in the late 1960s, a time when horizons in music were changing by the day. All around you possibilities were opening: At home, the leading lights were reinventing indigenous forms as tropicália, a radical movement that would become enormously influential. From far away came the impossibly pretty, world-changing harmonies of the Beach Boys and the ambitious songwriting of the Beatles.
Of those inspired by these developments (Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Milton Nascimento), the most criminally overlooked is Lô Borges, a singer and guitarist from Belo Horizonte whose debut is one of the lost gems of world pop. Borges grew up around Milton Nascimento and Wagner Tiso among others, and was involved in Nascimento’s powerful song-cycle about childhood, 1972’s Clube da esquina (see p. 540). While writing and recording that album, Borges compiled a set of more idiosyncratic songs for his own project, pieces built on slurpy rock/funk rhythm patterns and languid, almost mystical vocal melodies, with lyrics about unrequited and rediscovered love.
These pieces don’t simply paste California sunshine onto generic bossa nova: Rather they’re slyly intricate études, coy in their use of rock rhythm but suffused with the elegant melodic slopes central to all Brazilian music. Borges borrowed both musical ideas and recording techniques from rock. There’s lots of vocal and instrumental layering, and several pieces feature guitarist Toninho Horta unleashing swervy and dramatic solos in the background, a counterpoint to the vocal refrains. Borges came up with a deft assimilation—music that’s elaborate (in a Pet Sounds way; see p. 55) but never fussy, built with reverence for detail (see the carefully webbed guitar arpeggios that define “Homem da rua”) and a surplus of soul. From a distance, these fifteen short works breeze by, generically pretty and not terribly demanding. Up close, they’re exquisite, elusive miniatures that reveal new dimensions each time you hear them.
Genre: World, Brazil
Released: 1973, EMI
Key Tracks: "Nao foi nada," "Calibre," "Toda essa agua"
Catalog Choice: Milton Nascimento: Clube da esquina
Next Stop: Caetano Veloso: Estrangerio
After That: Juana Molina: Segundo
Book Page: 106
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#1 from buyu, Turkiye - 01/03/2009 5:27
Buyu, Medyum, Medyumlar, Cinler, Buyuler, Nazar, Fallar, Yildizname, Hipnoz, Telepati, Reankarnasyon, Horoskop, Yorum, Tarot, Palmistry, Numeroloji, Konusunda Lider Site..!
#2 from Darian Ebrahimi, Iran - 07/19/2009 5:22
I love Lô Borges! Thanks for this introduction! I’ve been looking for some great Brasilian music other than Stan Getz.
#3 from O.T., Germany - 02/26/2010 4:01
Maybe 100 recordings are enough and I guess this album would still be among them. And if you listen to it without any hurry you may feel that it ain’t very comfortable, that there is a harsh note of despair sounding through all the elegance and Rhythm & Blues Miniatures. A closer look at the lyrics may reveal, that the reason for this mood ain’t unrequited and rediscovered love but fear. There surely is a lot of love in the music, but I guess Borges here rather speaks about his country - in 1973 a country under dictatorial oppression.