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Marcos Valle Contrasts Review

Album. Released 2003.  

BBC Review

'Marcos Valle subtly pulls other moods into his stylish sound. It's kept him ageless...

Chris Moss 2003

With a jazzy, laid back 'ba-ba-ba', Marcos Valle's latest album sweeps the listener off to his native, sun-blessedRio de Janeiro in a time machine. Yep, it's still the 60s or 70s here in spirit, and the urban clamour of Sao Paulo's edgy electronica hasn't infected the dance culture, which is an extension of beach, sublime physical beauty and the unbearable lightness of being Brazilian.

Actually, Valle, though a veteran of the bossa scene and a gentle soul in person and in the studio, is open to innovation. Three remix tracks - "Valeu", "Parabéns" and "Néga de Balaio" - find him gleefully pushing his up-tempo, sunshine rhythms into a club sound, and the rich mix on almost all the tracks - with layer upon layer of percussion and wind - means the music is constantly changing direction and toying with instrumental breaks.

But a lot of the songs are simply lovely, loungey numbers in which words, beat, trumpet and keyboards are all carefully weighted and interwoven seamlessly into an effortless-sounding whole. The jazz/groove element that underpins this sensual, sassy music is provided by the twangy bass of Alex Malheiros and by Valle's own unhurried, breathy vocal style. Never droning or dull, the songs are trance-like celebrations of Copacabana days and nights, with Marcos talking and teasing his way into the meld.

And what a meld it is after four decades of exploring. In an interview earlier this year, in advance of his tour of Europe and Japan, Marcos told me"I like to develop in my music, adding more into the mix - so yes, there's bossa, jazz, baiao and frevo (a folk style from Pernambuco) in there, as well as the influence of black musicans from the US: Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones."

Far Out's other big Brazilian artist, Joyce, joins Valle and his band for the trippy, guitar-led (unremixed) version of "Valeu". It's a gorgeous little dialogue, reminiscent of the duos of live tropicalismo gigs, with swinging brass coming in and a cheeky melodica. Here Valle raps - in that inimitable, anger-free Rio style - and lets Joyce do the flourishes.

Essentially a balladeer, Marcos Valle subtlypulls other moods into his stylish sound. It's kept him ageless and full of energy - and a session of Contrasts should help chill the most hectic of souls.

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