Sunday, May 14, 2006

Marisa Monte, Infinito Particular and Universo Ao Meu Redor, Metro Blue/EMI (9/12/06 release date)

Next out of the gate is Infinito Particular ("The Particular Infinite"). Of the two simultaneously released recordings, it sounds most like a product of the present. It's also a smoother affair, the opposite of Seu Jorge's Cru. Or to paraphrase the Fine Young Cannibals, Universo is "the raw," i.e. the cru, while Infinito is "the cooked," i.e. the cozinhado (if my translation is to be trusted). That said, it's more mellow and downbeat.

Like Universo, Infinito isn't jazz, new age, or adult contemporary, although it could appeal to some of the more adventurous fans of those genres. And if Monte hasn't entered the world of the soundtrack yet, I hope she does, as Infinito sounds like it could be the accompaniment to something cinematic--a film by Lucretia Martel (The Holy Girl), perhaps. Granted, Martel is Argentinian, but it could work.

Despite her effortlessly enchanting vocals and the involvement of the multi-talented Jorge, who co-wrote "Levante" ("It Rises") and "O Rio" ("The River"), and Philip Glass, who provides string and wind arrangements, for the title track and (the untranslatable) "GerĂ¢nio," Infinito failed to ignite my imagination the way Universo did. It's still a fine album, especially the soaring "Levante," which features infant babbling mixed in amongst the brass. The underwater gurgling in "Aquela" ("That One") is another inventive touch. Overall, Infinito is more lush and ephemeral than its partner, but also less lively and immediate.

In retrospect, I wish I'd listened to these CDs in reverse order as I think I might appreciate Infinito more otherwise. And it is growing on me the more I listen to it. But it's too late to turn back the hands of time, so I declare Universo Ao Meu Redor the winner.


Marisa Monte shares a label with France's Keren Ann and a sensibility with Argentina's Juana Molina (who, like Seu Jorge, will be coming to Seattle this June). For listeners, like me, who are more familiar with those veteran performers than this equally experienced Brazilian talent, these self-proclaimed "non-identical twin" albums, are sure to come as a welcome revelation.

Note: End part two of two. Translations from Babel Fish. All images from the AMG.


Kofi Fosu said...

I adore Marisa Monte. It's in keeping with that "Brazilian- singer-as-hip-vain" There's something polite about her music. Traditional fans of so-called real Brazilian music don't like her. She is new as opposed to old school. Try listening to a true sambista as Margareth Menezez.

kathy fennessy said...

Thanks for your comment and for the tip. Marisa Monte is new to me, but I really took these albums. And I look forward to seeing her colleague, Seu Jorge, this Thursday in Seattle.

kathy fennessy said...

I didn't have access to the finished disc when I penned this post. In looking through the CD booklet, I see that Arto Lindsay, AKA "James Brown in Steve Buscemi's body," has provided English translations, in which case the title becomes "Private Infinite," while "Levante" and "GerĂ¢nio" become "Get Up" and "Geranium." Thanks, Arto!