Review Russo Passapusso – Paraíso da Miragem

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Russo Passapusso’s debut solo release, Paraíso da Miragem, marks the arrival of a major talent. The album occasionally recalls the music of the 1970s, but it is very much in line with the exciting sounds that have emerged from São Paulo in the twentieth-first century, as the presence of Curumin as producer and Anelis Assumpção as guest vocalist attest. Like all of these artists — and indeed so many great Brazilian musicians — Russo Passapusso is skilled in crafting music from diverse origins yet succeeds in making a coherent, personal statement, the mix of sounds never clashing or seeming borrowed.

The first two tracks, “Paraquedas” and Remédio” are energetic, guitar-based rockers. The opener, “Paraquedas,” the best song on the album and one of the best Brazilian songs I’ve heard in some time, features scorching guitar, infectious percussion, subtle electronics and brass, and a deep bass line.

The third track, “Flor de Plástico,” is a laid-back jam dominated by acoustic guitar and Russo’s smooth singing. “Anjo” is another energetic track, but “Sem Sol,” an atmospheric trip-hop number featuring Anelis Assumpção, moves the album away from its rock-oriented start. The next three tracks, the Bossa Nova-inflected “Areia,” the slinky, percussive psychedelic samba “Sangue do Brasil,” and the samba/reggae “Relógio,” are perhaps the songs influenced most by traditional Brazilian styles on Paraíso da Miragem. The funky “Sapato” sounds like it could have been culled from a classic Tim Maia album, while the short interlude “Devagar” is a strange sonic experiment. “Matuto” sounds somewhat like a sped-up version of one of the samba-influenced tracks from the heart of the album, while “Autodidata” shows a heavy hip-hop influence, with a guest turn from São Paulo MC BNegão. Perhaps the highest praise I can give Paraíso da Miragem is that it reminds me (in spirit as much as sound) of the 1970s work of Jorge Ben and Gilberto Gil in its blend of black music forms both Brazilian and foreign and both traditional and modern with a strong rock influence.

This excellent album is available for free at Russo Passapusso’s Web site, so you have no excuse not to check it out for yourself.


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