Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v04n09)
Rick On The Records - by Rick Zeigler
posted: May 04, 2007
Bebel Gilberto has quite a heritage to live up to, being the daughter of legendary Brazilian musicians Anton Carlos Jobim and Astrud Gilberto (whose sixties hit "Girl From Ipanema" still caresses the airwaves to this day). On Momento, her third album, she is more than equal to the task. Possessing the same hushed whisper of a voice as her mother, Gilberto continues to employ the slow, "tropical" grooves so characteristic of Brazilian music. But as with her previous two (excellent) albums, she also adds a variety of electronic "spices" that update the sound while keeping the Brazilian feel fully intact. While the addition of electronics to such music is becoming more commonplace by the day, Gilberto's voice, economic songwriting (most songs clock in at around 3 minutes), and varied instrumental approaches put her at the forefront. The title song opens the album, and is characteristic of much that is to follow. Sung in Brazilian (some songs do have English passages), the vocals are lush and sung just above a whisper, with a slow, laid back groove and almost imperceptible electronic touches creating a very relaxed and sensual atmosphere. "Bring Back The Love" follows with a slightly more modern feel provided by programmed keyboards and percussion flavors. "Cacada" provides a nice change of pace, driven by a strong tom-tom pattern, with the main melody carried by flute. Interestingly, the weakest track here is the most well-known. Gilberto attempts Cole Porter's "Night and Day," but with only partial success, as her vocals sound uncharacteristically stilted, lacking the flow achieved on her own compositions. While some may argue that Gilberto's modernization of Brazilian music is an appropriation, such criticisms would appear to be misguided. She is no more an appropriator than is an artist like Bruce Springsteen when he foregoes an acoustic for an electric guitar when retracing (or simply covering) the folk canon. For those with open ears, the respect for tradition - without sounding completely traditional - is apparent throughout Momento.
WAX TAILOR-HOPE & SORROW
"How shall I begin my story?'" are the first words heard on Wax Tailor's second album, Hope & Sorrow. Given that his first album was an all-instrumental affair, the line is very appropriate. Wax Tailor, nee French DJ J.C. Le Saout, has once again crafted a masterful hip-hop/trip-hop/turntablist/funk/and so on concoction that swings and seduces in equal measure. As mentioned, his first album had no vocalists, while this current effort sees vocals on two-thirds of the tracks, as well as an occasionally-present 'narrator" weaving things together throughout. The vocals that are present are not, however, of the boastful hip-hop variety. Rather, they are there to add color and texture to what is an otherwise superb amalgam of live and sampled music. Even when sung by funk/hip-hop doyens Ursula Rucker and Sharon Jones, they are used in service to the music, rather than the music being in service to the vocals (the standard in most hip-hop works). As for the music, Wax Tailor's beats are usually led by very simple, and very slinky, drums and bass. He then layers various samples, programmed sounds, and live performances over the top of the beats. Employing horns, woodwinds (especially flute), strings, horns, and organ/keyboards, he consistently tailors his sounds for wax (hence the name) into laid-back grooves, swinging funk, stuttery soul, and all points in between. Reminiscent more of a movie soundtrack than an artist's album, Hope & Sorrow, along with his first effort, Tales Of The Forgotten Memories, puts Wax Tailor very near the top of the sample-driven hip-hop heap.
Rick Zeigler, along with his wife, Jeanne, owns Indy CD and Vinyl at 806 Broad Ripple Avenue. Back in his musician days, his band opened for the likes of U2, XTC, Gang Of Four, The Pretenders, Los Lobos, and, um, Flock Of Seagulls, among others. You can read all of Rick's reviews at www.indycdandvinyl.com. Email your music questions and comments to rick@BroadRippleGazette.com