Friday, December 21, 2018

Albums of the Year # 5 Elza Soares - Deus E Mulher

From August:

Now here's something quite phenomenal. Deus E Mulher the latest album from a genuinely legendary figure, Brazilian Elza Soares, born in a Rio favela, now in her eighties but making utterly startling and groundbreaking music that almost defies description. Soares has over sixty years in the music business, starting of as a samba and bossa nova singer and now over the decades has transmuted into something else entirely, a force of nature frankly.

Accompanied by a quite brilliant set of musicians, four decades junior to her, reinventing themselves from one track to the next at will, the record is one tumbling, carnival of rhythm and sound. Sometimes Jazz, sometimes Afrobeat, sometimes recognisably Brazilian, but then Hip Hop or Post Punk or Metal. It's a brutal and abrasive beast textured with metallic jagged surfaces, consistently in your face and consistently shedding its skin and moving onto fresh territory, reinventing its own wheel. Yes it really is that good! I don't have the words to do it justice really.

I don't speak Portuguese but have done sufficient, rudimentary research into what's going on to confirm what seems rudely apparent whether you understand the lyrics on Deus E Mulher or not. That this is a furious, raging record. Furious at a Brazilian society undergoing an epic, violent historical and cultural crisis where homicide and rapes are reaching record levels and gang crime is utterly rife. Here, it's all vividly represented. Life in the cauldron.

Soares rages against all of this, as she rages against the dying of her own light. The album's practically a manifesto for activism and revolt. A quite brilliant record that's surely as good as anything you're likely to hear this year. As I said, I don't fully understand all of the marginalised fury it articulates but listening to it is more than enough and  whatever it is it's a mighty, heady brew.

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