Bebel Gilberto
Bebel Gilberto

Six Degrees

t’s always summer in Rio, and the seductive music of Bebel Gilberto can’t help but evoke a warm breeze even as winter begins to tighten it’s grip on the Northeast. Don’t blame her for being irresistible to the compilers of CDs aimed at Starbucks or Urban Outfitter patrons—loathsome yuppies requiring pleasant, unthreatening music to accompany their fantasies of consumption. She carries the tradition of cool sophistication that bossa nova has cultivated since its inception with that same understated collection of rhythms beneath rich jazz chords and supple melodies. This isn’t, however, empty tranquility; these are still but deep waters you’re wading into, a kind of sophistication that can’t be bought or manufactured. This is music for smart, sexy, cosmopolitan adults, not caramel latte swillers.

Daughter of Joao Gilberto, one of the primary architects of bossa nova (literally translated as “new beat”), Bebel worked with a variety of artists such from the sublime (Brazilian legend-in-his-own-right Caetano Veloso) to the ridiculous (Kenny G—Bebel, really!) and the inevitable David Byrne before making her debut in 2000 with the gorgeous Tanto Tempo. Working with respected Serbian-born producer Suba, the pair weaved atmospheric electronics subtly throughout the album, resulting in songs that had the timeless appeal of bossa nova’s ambitious songform and a greater sense of ethereal beauty. Sadly, Suba perished in an apartment fire even before Tanto Tempo’s release and one has to wonder whether Bebel Gilberto’s comparative lack of those entrancing elements can be attributed to his absence.

But let us put such unpleasantness aside. Bebel Gilberto is about the appreciation of the here and now, while always keeping in mind the larger loves and losses that give life savor. And though it may be missing some of that haunting winsomeness of her debut, it is nevertheless a superfine collection of ravishing songs that just may provide the antidote for your moribund lovemaking.

Choke on the lush delights of “Simplesmente” or the Carlinhos Brown-penned “Aganju”, you undeserving cur. Luxuriate in the bed of dreamy harmonies that envelop “All Around” and tell me this is just easy-listening and so help me I’ll whomp you good. Those soft ghosts that inhabit music by guys like Sea & Cake or the Aluminum Group (both of whom I adore) are fully awake in these tunes and everywhere. And after enduring countless “divas” warbling with unbearable melismatic nonsense, how refreshing is it to hear a talented singer soft-pedal her abilities, content to enchant and transfix instead of pummel? Very.

Brazil has produced more than its fair share of musical giants. Genius composers such as Tom Jobim and Milton Nascimento, powerful performers like Jorge Ben, the furious wonder that is vocalist Elis Regina and countless others have stoked the fascination of those of us who find an almost perfect combination of intensity, complexity and immediacy in Brazil’s various indigenous forms. Bebel Gilberto is a part of that legacy, not only in terms of her parentage, but because she captures that intoxicating quality guilelessly, and delivers it to a chilly world.

Reviewed by: Chuck Zak

Reviewed on: 2004-12-06

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Posted 12/06/2004 - 08:35:02 AM by yoshi4:
 Sorry but I thought this was an awful album, and [8] is pretty crazy if u ask me.. bossa nova or just contemporary candy- whatever this is; the music just seemed verrrry flat to me, and like u rightly said- it was the music and production that gave "tanto tempo" such an amazing vibe, that WAS an [8]! but this was just plain boring in my opinion, peace, y.
Posted 12/06/2004 - 04:58:45 PM by mellowfellow:
 Maybe I should go back and listen to this album again. When I first heard it, there were no stand out/memorable tracks. But I like Anju, it's a nice track. It reminds me of Bjork's Homogenic beats.
Posted 12/07/2004 - 08:34:22 PM by chuckzak:
 It's definitely more trad then TT, and it may lack that records highs, but I still think it's solid all the way through. She can't help but skirt that "quiet storm" sound, I guess and the black hole of bland respectibility may one day claim her if she's not careful, but not yet.
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