If it wasn't hard enough being the daughter of João Gilberto and Miúcha,
now Bebel Gilberto has t'deal with being railroaded into the downtempo/chill/mix-CD
clique. The chanteuse's setting of soft electronic
programming to Brazilian rhythms led to collaborations with Amon Tobin and Thievery
Corporation, which led her into the ghetto of tasteful remixes, which meant
her name was soon imprinted on scores of coffee-table music compilations.
It's only now, four years on, that Gilberto has finally followed up her debut
disc, Tanto Tempo, with a brand-new
Produced with Björk collaborateurs Marius de Vries and
Guy Sigsworth, the gear is geared to give more substance to her songs, the hope
being that a little more grist in the mill may shake off some of the more easy-listening
evocations evoked the first time around. Of course, the album does dip into some
entirely tasteful tunes that'll endear
themselves to the Ipanema set (like "All Around," all breezy sway and syrupy
strings), but there're other songs here that hint at a gentle adventurousness.
And it don't just come from the presence of fellows who've helped Björk
chase her unlikely digital dreams, but in other collaborations, like "Aganj˙,"
where Bahian bandleader Carlinhos Brown kicks a candomblé into an uncomfortable
gear with assorted self-constructed idiosyncratic instruments (kalincajÛn,
Styrofoam isopor, rubber nose) creating intermittent "polyrhythms." Later, he
litters "O Caminho,"
ostensibly an Astrud-ish jazzy-piano-by-the-beach number, with "percussion" touches:
cobbled claypot, bracelets, nylon bermuda, and "galactic berimbau" these
kooky contributions, if we're to draw Björkian comparatives,
being more Matmos-ish than anything else. Elsewhere, there's a couple cuts "Cada
Beijo" and "Winter" where
Sigsworth and de Vries, respectively, bring a more zap-like digital crack to
the beatsy programming, this contrast'd with cascading strings, both in pizzicato-preset
and actual-orchestral-players form.
All such said, I'm sure there's scores
of listeners uninterested in any Björk associations, concerned only with
this disc's tropicalist credentials. To that end, the album only features one "standard," Gilberto
covering Caetano Veloso's "Baby," in English, by way
of Os Mutantes, no doubt.
But, further to the famous-kid angle ever-present
in any write-up of Bebel (who first appeared on stage with her mother at the
age of 7), the album features recurring collaborations with Pedro Baby,
son of Pepeu Gomes and Baby Consuelo/Baby do Brazil, and even includes a co-write
with Daniel Jobim, grandson of Antonio Carlos Jobim. Whilst Gilberto, born
and based in New York, is more about internationalism than Brazilification,
her second disc does find the princes and princesses of bossa novan royalty
frolicking in these new electronic realms, all whilst new audiences continue
to discover the genius of
their old-folks' old gear.