Criolo ‘Convoque seu Buda’ (Sterns Africa) 4/5

crioloSinger-songwriter-rapper Criolo is something of a household name in his native Brazil and over 400,000 downloads were sold of his previous album that effortless fused Afrobeat, reggae and samba into the mix alongside rap while retaining a profound respect for the Brazilian folk tradition and this is continued on the new album with the creatively graphic cover testament to a genuine quest for the roots of Brazilian music. 2012 saw Criolo’s first European tour and a first live performance in London. A wider audience is likely to be falling under his deeply melodic spell after listening to this latest album which repeats the formula, but remains highly inventive in the subtle and well researched and thought out cross-fertilisation of styles. This is typified by the samba-pagoda sub-genre of ‘Fermento pra massa’, a lovely acoustic samba. It should be stated from the outset that Criolo is a gifted vocalist whose natural voice sounds not dissimilar to Caetano Veloso and it is something of mystery why he persists with the rap alter ego side as evidenced on the title track with a thumping backbeat to accompany it. Arguably the strongest song of all and one that encapsulates the eclectic approach of the album as a whole is ‘Pegue pra ela’ which commences with a jazzy intro before developing into an Afro-Beat flavoured number and into this mix comes some funk-tinged guitar riffs that Niles Rodgers would be proud of. The three producers on the new album, Daniel Ganjaman, Marcelo Cabral and Rodrigo Campos have brought together seemingly disparate genres, yet it works as a whole. This writer particularly likes the dub-soaked roots reggae of ‘Pé de Breque’ where it is a genuine treat to hear some proper brass accompaniment and just to add to the occasion there are some special effects straight out of the early 1980s Pac-Man era. For some left-field glory, the North African dervish intro to ‘Fio de Prumo (padê onã)’ includes delightful guest vocals courtesy of Juçara Marça plus rapping from the leader while the soprano saxophone that wails in the background betrays a love of the musings of one Wayne Shorter, who knows a thing or two about Brazilian music. One of the year’s most intriguing new releases and this could prove to be an unexpected hit outside strictly world roots or Latin music boundaries if given the right promotional support.

Tim Stenhouse