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Tom Zé: Postmodern Platos
Tom Zé: Postmodern Platos
turnover time:2024-06-22 06:26:26

Though the resurgence of the Brazilian tropicalia movement comes suspiciously close to the conveniently timed millennial cusp, the music now being released and reissued could not be better suited for the next century. The musicians who came out of the politically charged atmosphere of late-'60s Brazil always sounded ahead of their time: The work of such groups as Os Mutantes was considered so progressive, it was deemed dangerously subversive by the conservative Brazilian government. Listening to the music collected on Everything Is Possible!, it's clear why some people felt so threatened: This is pretty strange stuff. Matching psychedelic rock with its native rhythms, Os Mutantes really was a mutation, like Brazil's answer to Frank Zappa. Though the group's first three albums have all been recently issued domestically, this best-of collection does a nice job both introducing the band and giving a good indication of what its compatriots were up to. Caetano Veloso was another talented songwriter who was popular at the same time, and he continues to grow musically. Livro is an amazing record, featuring Veloso's acoustic guitar set against a variety of tricky arrangements and musical beds. Bahia drummers add rolling percussion to most of the tracks, while weird noises remind you that, while Veloso possesses the songwriting skill of someone like Dylan, he remains in essence an experimental artist. Another major contributor to the tropicalia movement has been Tom Zé, one of the most playful figures in a tight musical circle. Postmodern Platos features remixes of tracks from last year's inventive Fabrication Defect album, pairing Zé's unique vision with several musical paramours. It's nice to hear current Brazilian wunderkind Amon Tobin deconstruct and reconstruct "Defect 2: Curiosidade," while John McEntire's treatment of the same track shows why Zé chose Tortoise as the backing band for his first sojourn into the U.S. Brazil's new school seems to be aiming for a polyglot style that does justice to its predecessors. Carlinhos Brown—who contributed to the great Bahia Black album Ritual Beating System—goes wild on his Omelete Man, a slick and contemporary voyage into funk and R&B stylings that sounds fresher and more eclectic than anything on the radio. Ultimately, that's what explains the staying power of all this music: Always looking forward, the tropicalistas have remained entirely modern through the years. Their albums are like musical time capsules, left to wait for everyone to catch up and exhume them.

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