Loading...
Off the Record

Album Review: Caetano Veloso's 'Zii e Zie'

Comments (0)

By

Tue, Apr 13, 2010 at 10:56 AM

[From LAWeekly's column The Beat]

click to enlarge ziiezie.jpg

Caetano Veloso plays the Greek this Thursday, April 15, marking the belated U.S. release of his 2009 album, Zii e Zie, a challenging collection of new songs co-produced by his son Moreno.

Veloso is 67, a year younger than Dylan, four years older than Bowie and only a few months younger than that other poet and sonic revolutionary Lou Reed. The mention of his English-speaking peers is not trivial. Veloso's towering, game-changing influence on Brazilian music (both lyrically and musically) from the late '60s onward has been compared to Dylan's, and his polysexual persona and sympathy for new sounds have allowed him to reinvent himself as many times as the singer of "Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes" or his American idol crabby Uncle Lou.

One could say that in the arrangements of Zii e Zie, Veloso is trying to reshape the world-conquering sounds of mid-20th century Brazil, the bossa nova and the samba, for the new millennium. Using Bowie and Reed as points of reference, one could also say that this difficult, rewarding reinvention points back to the angular sounds of Station to Station, with a healthy seasoning of sawlike distorted electric guitar, jarring interventions reminiscent of Carlos Alomar or of Reed's late-period masterpiece Ecstasy and his recent live shows.

A lot of attention will be paid to Veloso's dirgey experiment in dub condemning the American aberration at Guantanamo Bay, but the ostensibly political lyrics are just an excuse for another of the album's studies in discomfort and repetition.

The best track, and perhaps the least straightforward, is opener "Perdeu" ("Lost"), which pares the bossa of Gilberto and Jobim into something primitive and incantatory (a minimal beat that recurs in "A Cor Amarela" and "Incompatibilidade de Gênios"), punctuated by the metal machine music of the guitar. Imagine Dr. John's "Mama Roux" interpreted by vintage-era Fripp and Eno and you might get an idea of the unusual collision of tropical fever and cold surfaces Veloso has achieved.

Nobody will ever mistake much of Zii e Zie for Brazil-ploitation bachelor-pad music. The man who godfathered Os Mutantes has created a further mutation. His U.S. label, Nonesuch, is very good at selling comfy jams to the NPR/Starbucks crowd -- here's hoping it figures out how to market this disturbing little gem.

Related Content

Now Trending

  • The 10 Biggest Classic Rock Douchebags

    While rock ‘n’ roll is necessarily classified as a form of pop music, it is actually an idiom whose radical, destructive primitivism established a new type of socio-cultural disorder. It’s about rejection of the status quo and celebration of the dis-imprisonment it instills. Always exploited for profit, rock’s unmanageable aspects...
    278
  • The Best Concerts to See in L.A. This Week

    Be sure to check out our constantly updated concert calendar! Monday, July 21 Lady Gaga STAPLES CENTER Since she first burst onto the scene and into the hearts and minds of her little monsters, Lady Gaga has become a genre unto herself. Beyond her hit-laden catalog, featuring many of the...
  • Were MC Daylyt's Total Slaughter Antics Good for Battle Rap?

    On Saturday, July 12, Total Slaughter became the first battle rap offered by means of traditional terrestrial pay-per-view carriers. The event was headlined by mainstream recording artist Joe Budden, who stepped in against battle mainstay Hollow da Don, and also featured the long-awaited rematch of one of the all-time great...
Los Angeles Concert Tickets

Slideshows

  • Air Guitar Championship Semifinals @ The Troubadour
    The Southwest Semifinals of the US Air Guitar Championship were held last Saturday at the historic Troubadour Club in West Hollywood. The event determined who would compete as regional representatives at the 2014 National Finals in Kansas City on August 9th. The colorful contestants (many of whom opted for elaborate codpieces) were judged by comedians Kristen Schaal and the Sklar Brothers. The top score was awarded to crowd-surfing guitarist Kingslayer, the mother of a teenage son who also competed wearing little more than an American flag bathing suit. All photos by Gustavo Turner.
  • Lucha VaVOOM @ The Mayan Theatre
    Lucha VaVOOM to The Mayan Theatre on Thursday night with a dose of their Sexy, Hot, Summer FUN! show to a packed house. With all the girls, guns and muscles what could go wrong? All photos by Timothy Norris.
  • The Best L.A. Concert Scenes of 2014 (So Far)
    With more secret shows, more once-in-a-lifetime performances, and more venues than any place else, there is no doubt that L.A. is one of the top places on the planet to see live music. Here are the best concert scenes of 2014 (so far).