Thiago Nassif – Três (2018)

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Arto Lindsay made a damned fine album last year with Cuidado Madame, a curious, enrapturing mixture of Brazilian pop and American avant-garde. It was flat out the best album of 2017 in my book, and since the idiosyncratic Lindsay hadn’t been terribly prolific of late, it might be asking too much to expect a record like that to come out again anytime soon.

But one actually did in the spring of 2018: Três. And the artist responsible for this, Brazil’s own Thiago Nassif, co-produced Lindsay’s 2017 achievement.

Nassif is a kindred soul of Lindsay’s who has a passion for music both pretty and ill-tempered, and doesn’t mind showing off all his sides at once. Their collaboration continues with Três, where Lindsay helms production with Nassif again taking on a co-producer role. Furthermore, the two had collaborated on a few of the tunes. Most of the guitar work is handled by Nassif this time but when Lindsay’s axe appears, you know it.

More so than the Lindsay project, however, there’s a DIY quality to these recordings, a quality Três proudly brandishes, because that only bolsters its rebellious streak even when the underlying scores are full of charm. The punk-lean minimalist “Desordem” with unexpected blasts of caustic electronic blasts and even a touch of slide guitar are just the kind of tricks Arto would pull but showing more patience in the development. The final surprise is the groove-laden drums which crash in with only 90 seconds left. Oh wait, there’s one more treat: Arto’s skittering guitar as the final salvo.

“Pensamentos” continues the barren feel, a fetching guitar riff and some percussion with a primitive bass line as all that’s needed here, but listen to that João Gilberto styled melody that belies the street attitude (at least, until out of nowhere the brass kicks in). Nassif’s bass line closely follows his lyrics for “Algodões,” rumbling along seemingly oblivious to the random instruments swirling around, such as a barroom piano and a guttural guitar. An acoustic guitar playing what is essentially a bass part is just about the only accompaniment for “Senhora Moda,” but it’s that staccato way of playing it when anyone else would strum that fits in well with quirky nature of this album.

“Time Thick (Tempo Denso)” is the first track that’s conventionally arranged, a lovely jazz-pop confection, which like the other cuts has no wasted instrumentation on it. That ‘lucid’ moment was fleeting however, and the gurgling, electro noises of the instrumental “Bulgado” somehow transform into a Southern styled blues rocking stomp without completely leaving behind the samples, loops and other assorted technologically-assisted eccentricities. “Quiçá (Leito Eito)” is a rocker that feeds off its funky, off-kilter rhythmic pattern.

More than any other song on Três, “Beira” (video above) acts like a track inadvertently left off Cuidado Madame, a song Thassif co-wrote with Lindsay. It’s got the kind of laid back lush, romantic melody that’s made Brazilian pop world famous set to experimental pulses that couldn’t be more foreign to that kind of strain. The collision of these opposing flows ends up becoming the very character of the song.

Sung almost entirely in Portuguese, Nassif undoubtedly has his home country primarily on mind with Três but American audiences with dauntless ears shouldn’t be dissuaded at all. This music is likely just as much on the periphery in Brazil as it is in America, but its sheer audaciousness and creativity knows no boundaries. It’s much unlike anything else you’re likely to hear from a very broadly defined pop realm that includes its rogue elements.

Except for, maybe, Cuidado Madame.

*** Download Três from Bandcamp ***


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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