Beleza Tropical 2
The second installment of David Byrne’s exploration of modern Brazilian pop has taken a long time to come out — ten years — so the first question is: was it worth the wait? Most definitely. Byrne once again assembles the cream of the Brazilian crop into a compilation of epic proportions, exploring a melange of music that shares a vibe more than a sound. As the excellent liner notes make clear, Brazilian music has always been about appropriation and mixing, bringing together disparate elements and recombining them in new ways. So while most of the songs on here share that gentle Brazilian sound, their approaches are completely unique and individual. For example, the opening track by Gilberto Gil (“Madalena”) comes off as traditionally Brazilian yet liquidly African. Not too much later, we are treated to Chico Science and Naçcao Zumbi’s “Rios, Pontes & Overdrives,” a track which starts out with a sample of the Fall’s Mark E. Smith and then lays a gigantic samba beat over a wildly panning loop and rap-recited lyrics. Arnaldo Antunes’ “O Seu Olhar” features a voice so deep and relaxed as to make James Earl Jones’ and Calvin Johnson’s pipes seem like hyperactive schoolboy’s.
Perhaps what is most striking about this collection is the easy coexistence between new artists and established ones. Gilberto Gil, Sergio Mendes, and Caetano Veloso have not only pioneered sounds and songs in Brazilian music, but seem comfortable and not at all out of date among their progeny and brethren here. From start to end, Beleza Tropical 2 showcases several artists worth investigating further.