The Brazilian compactos of Bruno Morais, 2010–2015
by Allen Thayer
Bruno Morais is a record collector as well as singer, songwriter, producer, documentarian, and musical host extraordinaire (somebody had to go bowling with Flava Flav in São Paulo). It’s this collision of artistic visions and media that makes Bruno’s music interesting, dense, and conceptual, but also very visceral. “I like to think that my albums are like feature films, and the compactos [singles] are like short films,” Bruno shares via chat. He’s wrapping up recording and production on his next “feature” and sophomore album, to be released in early 2016 on Black Brown & White Records out of the U.K., but the meantime, he’d like to share some of the musical “short films” he’s released since his first album in 2009. The recordings feature special guests such as Mauricio Fleury, Kiko Dinucci (Metá Metá), Guilherme Kastrup, Lucas Santtana, 3 Cruzeiros, Guizado, Victor Rice, and Bixiga 70. Bruno is considering compiling them all into one release with a proposed title of Short Films 2010–2015, “but for now, I love them as singles like they are,” he says.
“Bichinho do Sono” b/w “Cidade Baixa”
The A-side on Bruno’s first release after his debut album, “Bichinho do Sono” simmers with nervous excitement, bubbling over in waves of searching, spacy keyboards and percolating percussion. Building on the subtlety of his debut, A Vontade Superstar, Bruno Morais no Estúdio A, this shows an evolution in arranging and songwriting for Bruno.
“Ela e os Raios” b/w “Sorriso Dela” (ft. Bixiga 70)
An original, “Ela E Os Raios,” and a heavenly cover of Erasmo Carlos’s little-known song “Sorriso Dela” make up Bruno’s second “compacto” from 2012. Bruno’s vocal on the song channels Erasmo’s understated intensity and vulnerability while Bixiga’s arrangement breathes new life into this beautiful tune by marrying the jazz sophistication of Brazilian master Moacir Santos with Fela Kuti’s horns and polyrhythms. While recording the track, Bruno met Erasmo himself, who gave him his blessing for the version, telling him it was one of his own favorite tracks, as it was inspired by the lovely smile of his late partner and mother of his kids, Narinha. Bruno was also invited to recreate Erasmo’s classic 1972 album Sonhos & Memórias where this song comes from in its entirety, accompanied by Bixiga 70’s rhythm section, with concerts in São Paulo in 2013 and 2014.
“O Mundo Vai me Convencer” b/w “Ela Não Sabe Calar”
From later in 2012, Bruno offers up this slice of fascinating Brazilian pop; “O Mundo Vai Me Convencer” mixes elements of rocksteady, Brill Building pop, and moody Bertolt Brecht cadences with Bruno’s signature sensual whisper central in the mix. The B-side, “Ela Não Sabe Calar,” starts off mild-mannered, if not a bit antsy, and then builds to an Os Mutantes–worthy freak-out.
“Insomnio y Palabreria” b/w “O Pé” + “O Pé Dub”
The most recent compacto from 2014 finds our hero in a Caribbean mood, swinging loosely on “Insomnio y Palabreria” with pronounced percussion and echo-laden guitars alternately soaring and scratching out a lazy and loping melody. The B-side’s “O Pé” is presented in an original, shimmering guitar-driven version and a dub version, with the echo turned to eleven, and the drums and bass taking more of the weight while the guitar dances in and out of the track.
These four releases pave the way for Bruno’s forthcoming sophomore album, scheduled for release in early 2016 on Black Brown & White, a London-based label that works with hand-picked artists. The album will feature an impressive guest list, including a new track written and performed by Leon Ware and Bruno Morais. Bixiga 70, Victor Rice, Rebecca Jordan, and Toby Laing (member from Fat Freddy’s Drop) are also confirmed to participate, and the final recording sessions are booked for August at Red Bull Studios in São Paulo on analog gear and instruments, produced by Mauricio Fleury (Bixiga 70) and Guilherme Kastrup (producer of A Vontade Superstar). While you wait for this movie to come to your turntable, enjoy a few musical short films to get a taste of what’s to come from Brazil’s soft-spoken singing superstar.
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