Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sipping cachaça with the world - CéU's Vagarosa

With today being the AFL Grand Final, I did make at least a bit of an attempt to find some sort of appropriately Aussie music to listen to for today’s blog post, but ultimately settled on some world music instead, which, given the global significance of Geelong’s victory today, is perhaps not all that out of place after all.

Brazilian singer CéU’s most recent album Vagarosa was the lead feature album on 3 PBS this week – and, as always with their features, this one was a great discovery.

CéU calls us into her sound-world with a short, simple, almost bare, introductory track, “Sobre o Amore e Seu Trabalho Silencioso”, with its unmistakeable South American rhythms and a small Portuguese guitar-related cavaquinho. This is music of the village, but it leads seamlessly into the real start of the album, “Cangote”, which belongs to a much, much bigger world. This song is very much in the vein of what is to come – a blend of sounds and styles that brings opposite corners of the world together in the sort of easy harmony that makes you think that world peace lies not in the hands of our diplomats and political leaders, but in the song and dance of our musicians.

The music swings and grooves with jaunty electronic organ, sauntering bass and, of course, the smooth, graceful voice of CéU.

It is world music in the deepest, widest sense – music of the world, not of just one place or one people. It has the improvised feel of jazz in magical instrumental interludes that evoke pictures of summer nights and languid dancing, in between the unhurried, happy conversations with friends over cool drinks of cachaça, to which CéU’s singing draws us.

There are some marvellous surprises too – like the Guizado’s phenomenal trumpet playing on “Nascente”, something that would do Miles Davis proud; or the cool, sexy duet with Luiz Melodia on “Vira Lata”, against almost tribal drums, and some sensational harmonies from flute, trombone and sax; or the child-like playfulness of “Ponteiro”, with tunes of almost nursery-rhyme simplicity playing against syncopated, shifting beats; or the way the angular, wooden percussion at the opening of the album’s final track, "Espaçonave", invites extra voices and instruments to join it, bar by bar, transforming into a springy, sprightly song, infused with flavours of the orient, against the sounds of the Amazon forest.

Vagarosa seems to blend so many things together that a more compartmentalised world would tell us to keep apart – simplicity and complexity, tradition and innovation, north and south, east and west. It all combines to create something that, no matter where or who you are, seems to have a little bit of you in it.

Thanks, once again, to 3 PBS FM for another fantastic album!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ian
    Given that a) you like listening to 3PBS and b) you write very good reviews of music that you've heard there, have you thought of submitting your reviews to their website? I've just had a look around and they have a 'Reviews' section, but you have to sign-in to read it. Perhaps you're a member already? The Reviews site is at:

    Of course, to suggest this isn't to deny the growing global readership of this blog; it's just to say it could be even bigger!