Review Curumin – Arrocha
Curumin may not be the first name that comes to mind when you think about Brazilian music, but the thirty-five year old vocalist/multi-instrumentalist/producer hailing from São Paulo and born of Spanish and Japanese parents is fast becoming a legend in Brazil for his experimental sound which crosses genre boundaries and moves firmly against the mainstream.
With Arrocha, his third album, Curumin takes a minimalistic approach to song design to create danceable beats and waves of melodies which never stray too far from the pumping bass-lines and guitar riffs which drive his tunes along.
The album roars into action with “Afoxoque”, setting the album’s mood with a playful, upbeat tone and layered sounds mixing drumbeats and deep electronic thumps. “Selvage”, then secures the record’s one-two punch with a more high-tempo affair and a bass-line which wonderfully pulsates alongside confident vocals and electronic whirrs.
“Treme Tierra” interestingly retreats from the intricate layering of instruments with a sludgy dub-step inspired bass-line which perfectly reflects the quake-like vibrations suggested by the song’s title. The tempo drops, and Curumin’s vocals become both slower and more melodic, while the inspired introduction of trumpets around half-way works surprisingly well alongside the languorous rhythm.
In “Passarinho”, Curumin’s vocals complement delicate acoustic riffs to make for a thoroughly uplifting tune, while he opts for simplicity once more with the brilliant ‘Paris Vila Matilde’, where a slower tempo sets the introspective mood of the song and places his heartfelt vocals firmly on centre stage.
The pulsating instrumental “Tupazinho Guerrero” then acts as an interlude to two reggae-infused efforts which blend together seamlessly. The distinctly tropical “Vestido de Prata” is a catchy tune whose success is born from its simplicity: the sole riff, the bass-guitar licks which dictate the song’s rhythm and the melodic vocals from both Curumin and his friend and label-mate Céu make for a superbly measured song. “Doce” is a much slower effort, managing to achieve a delicate balance between relaxing vocals and a pounding bass-line by fusing reggae with the dance-inciting traits of MPB.
Unfortunately, the album is unable to maintain its momentum till the end, notably tailing off after “Blim Blim”; though its dance vibe offers high hopes, the introduction of needless vocals take away from the overall mood of the song and make it one of the album’s weakest efforts. Likewise, “Sapo Cururu”, clocking in at just over a minute, has no real time to establish its mark on the record, while “Accorda” is a distinctly pedestrian offering despite its thumping ‘heartbeat’ of a bassline.
Though the relatively average one-minute instrumental “Bambora” rounds off the album, “Pra Nunca Mais” would perhaps have been the most fitting end to the record, plunging the listener into a dream-like trance with its delicate balance of wistful vocals and layered sounds. Curumin’s Japanese influences are clearest on this beautiful tune, which successfully fuses the sounds of violins, flutes and even a harp with some great riffs, all of which lend the song a sense of floating calm and wonderment.
With Arrocha, Curumin must be commended for his audacity in producing an album which is shamelessly unafraid to move against the mainstream. Indeed, even those songs which appear to be firmly seated in a predetermined genre (be it MPB, reggae, etc.) diverge enough from the listener’s expectations to keep the music feeling fresh and current.
Undoubtedly, the album works best taken as a whole, where the distinct movements between styles and tunes are plain to see. Once you begin to divide the parts up, however, the latter half notably tails off, particularly in comparison to the sheer strength of the album’s opening quartet of tunes.
Nevertheless, Curumin’s focus on simplicity and experimentation is largely a rousing success, with the confident vocals and the meticulous layering of songs often a joy to behold. The album may only last thirty-five minutes, but it’s a unique experience which deserves to be relived time and time again.
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