(Gearbox Records)

https://thiagonassif.bandcamp.com/album/mente

Rogue Soul? You got it. The bastard offspring of Mick Quintus and Doctor John? Surely.

This is a record that has been glued to my turntable this past 6 weeks or so. I ended up enjoying it far too much to get round to review it, if you know what I mean. And now I have to try to box my excitement into a corner.

But it’s so difficult to do so, as Mente starts like a sermon in a cellar, candles a-flicker, a devil choir adding the necessary pathos. And the funk squiggles strewn around the feet of glorious opener ‘Soar Estranho’ are like smashed reliquaries… How can you resist? Thiago Nassif summons up all sorts of misfits throughout this record,  like the aforementioned pair and maybe even Serge Gainsbourg and Armand Schaubroeck at times. One thing to note: the choice of instrumentation of this record – often to set tone and texture –  is magnificent. For example, the brief appearance of trumpets on ‘Soar Estranho’ signals a beautiful change of chord and pressure. ‘Pele de Leopardo’ follows the opener in style and is an effective gateway for the faux naive Brazilian pop of ‘Voz Única Foto Sem Calcinha’. You always feel that things are on the point of slowly disintegrating, and the sudden ending is no surprise. After that we get ‘Plástico’, which is a brilliant urban soul ditty, with a siren-like chorus in the refrain, from the devil choir. These tracks are as horizontal as pop music gets.

Side two is more fractured, quieter in spirit. The opening pair, ‘Trepa Trepa’ and ‘Transparente’ are slow burning slices of funk, propped up by a bass lick and sotto voce melodies. It’s not really late night music, it feels more like someone slowly singing to themselves whilst staring out of the steamed up window of a coffee bar. Urban soul for the lonely. By contrast, ‘Cor’ is a sort of bastardised Vince Guaraldi Charlie Brown theme, given a queasy electronic coating via some Moebius-like electronics. All the while, Nassif murmurs some deep street wisdom to himself. We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the kerb… Talking of tales of the street, ‘Rijo Jorra Ja’ trundles along like a lost soul, all sorts of antecedents form bogus men to that very moreish, “staubgoldstyle”, modern urban electro pop. To finish things off we return to the trickster vibe of side one with ‘Santa’ which vocoders itself out of existence over an r&beat.

Have I made my enthusiasm clear enough?

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