the original kStyle blog.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Typewriters on Wax

[Let it be stated, for the record, that I am going to attempt to sway the banner ads atop this page to a certain product with each music review I write. Last time it was steak knives--ads for which appeared for at least a week afterwards, I'm proud to report. This time I'm going for shoe polish. Challenge me: I'll take product-placement requests for future reviews.]

A long time ago, in my last review, I mentioned that I'd try to branch out from the West African stuff I'd been focusing on and go somewhere else. Ever since, you've been waiting for the other shoe to drop. Well, here it is:

Aah, Brazil. Where life is a proverbial bowl of kiwi fruit. Ben hooked me up with an album called "Music Typewriter," by Moreno Veloso, and if you're familiar with Brazilian music, you'll recognize that name; Moreno is the son of Caetano Veloso, a fixture in the pantheon of Brazilian pop.

If Beck were a Brasiliero, he might make albums like this. Well, not really. But think lo-fi. "Music Typewriter" lacks the shine and polish of overproduction, which makes it quite refreshing. The drums, in particular, are recorded in such a way so as to sound like drums in a room, whose resonant qualities almost come across visually. You can picture the band kicking off their shoes and treating the studio as if it were only a few steps away from a live stage. Which is not to say that some fun studio trickery isn't in play here. Guitars blip and loop in quirky little ways, often imperceptibly except through close listening.

I like albums that present a cohesive sound throughout while offering lots of variety across tunes. And the shoe certainly fits here. "Typewriter" ranges from the quirky-jerky rocker "Enquanto Isso" with it's black leather electric guitar screaming away in the background over a rattle-your-rib-cage thump drum, to the Sao Paulo block-party funk throwback "Arrivederci," to ballads that brush by you gently, like "Para Xo," one of my favorites. Yet, somehow, it coheres. One big ball of wax.

It's functional stuff, too; works perfectly well in the background while you drink cocktails, or you can boot up the volume, put on your dancing shoes, and look for the one you love. Check it out, my PYTs!


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