Monday, February 15, 2010


The thing I like most about Tropicalia stalwart Gal Costa is that she has not just one but two eponymously titled albums, 'Gal Costa' and 'Gal' (as in Costa). That is the kind of nihilistic behaviour that can only be matched by calling your first studio album 'The Best of: Double Live'. 

I will skip the politics and the revolution, the imprisoned musicians and the giant tea cup Rogerio Duprat is holding on the front of the scene setting 'Tropicalia' compilation album and instead go for Brazilian music's neck, stabbing it repeatedly with my blue Biro pen...

Much of what came from the Tropicalia scene is below average. There I said it: At times it is little more than badly disguised Bossa Nova music wrapped up in third rate outsider art.

Am I saying this to be controversial? No. I've had a year or so to dig fairly deep into it as a genre and whilst the good does outweigh the drivel it is at an unexpectedly low ratio. Take Gal Costa's 1970 album 'Legal'. It's rubbish (See review). The second Os Mutantes album is massively overrated as well.

'But it's a musical revolution!'

'What's your fucking point?'

If the East German's had formed a musical movement prior to the decomissioning of the Berlin wall would it mean that hours on end of Scorpions inspired 80's hard rock Umpah bands were suddenly worth listening to? No. Not even if they did have awesome hair and tiger print spandex. Umpah music is Umpah music, doesn't matter if that Flugelhorn is playing 'Rock You Like a Hurricane' or not.

I need to not turn this into a list of bad Brazilian records which is what seems to be happening so I shall move onto one of the gold stars on the Tropicalia report card.

Gal Costa 'Gal'. Gal Costa's previous album 'Gal Costa' is good but I get the sense throughout that she is having trouble letting go, going with the movement, stopping with the clapping and the fucking Bossa Nova. Why do so many cultures have such a problem with leaving their 'Traditional music' at the door? Anyway, here it's as if she has swallowed the mystery pill and pissed on her bongos.

In letting down her hair what she gives is a seductive brand of Western inspired pop filtered through the Brazil Freak-out machine. The accompanyment is random, unexpected and ranges from super-fuzz guitar to gentle strings and random yelping. In other words, I am not sure I can recomend this highly enough. 'Gal' is truly exciting and surprisingly rewarding.

It's a bit like licking an old 9V battery and not knowing if you are going to burn your tongue or not but only in a good and slightly more Brazilian way.


  1. I really enjoy reading your stuff.

  2. Thank you very much. And just for you I went through and fixed the spelling and grammar.... Well, most of it.