Banda Larga Cordel (WEA, 2008)
Jill Turner reflects on the dizzy heights that Gilberto Gil has scaled as a musician and a politician, whilst she listens to his bright and breezy new album, Banda Larga Cordel, his first for eleven years. One of the greatest names in Brazilian music, Gil recently stepped down as Brazil’s Minister of Culture, to spend more time, not with his family but with his music:
Gil has travelled a long and interesting road since creating the Tropicalia sound in the late sixties. Music that once got him booed off stage as he fused regional Brazilian styles with outside rock instruments and influences. Music that also led to Gil’s detention and temporary exile, as his lyrics made oblique references to and criticized the military occupation.
Forty years on, with over fifty albums to his name, a cabinet of awards including seven Grammy’s you could be excused for expecting a " best of luxury cd box set", issued in time for the Christmas stockings. Instead Gil gives us an album, in the main full of new compositions with the subtle use of electronica to reaffirm and bolster the sound he is best known for. His vocals only ever so slightly husky, could belong to a man 40 years his junior, reassuring in the knowledge that Gil had to take time out after a polyp, now removed, wreaked havoc with his vocal chords.
Banda Larga Cordel is classic Gil, as demonstrated by, ‘Amor De Carnaval’ and the bossa nova based ‘Outras Viram’. There are of course the other expected elements of pop, reggae and samba throughout with a couple of tracks that could stand alone, which in the old days would be released as singles. ‘Nao Grude Nao’ an uplifting flirtatious track borrowing styles from forro with great flute work interspersed with dancefloor electronic beats. The other is ‘La Renaissance Africaine’ a francophonic track written for the African Festival of Black Arts, which will leave its catchy melody running around your head hours later.
My only criticism is the absence of translated lyrics that we come to expect with many international releases. I know music should speak for itself but with Gil’s political activism and passion for communication, the lack of translated lyrics leaves quite a hole in the listening experience.
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