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Divine, Marvelous: “Gal Costa” Bridges Bossa Nova and Tropicalia

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Gal CostaBlame it on the bossa nova. So pervasive was that intoxicating, romantic and gentle Brazilian beat that an alternative had to arrive. It came in the form of tropicalia, or tropicalismo, blending the popular with the avant-garde, fusing Brazilian and African rhythms with that old-time rock and roll. Tropicalia rose to prominence along with música popular brasileira (MPB), offering young people an alternative to bossa nova, which had by that point risen to international prominence. Emerging Brazilian artists of the day found a sound of their own. Real Gone Music and its Dusty Groove imprint have recently reissued one of the best and most beguiling examples of this distinctive Brazilian style. 1969’s Gal Costa (RGM-0257) was the first full solo album from the Brazilian vocalist, following an EP and a collaborative album with Caetano Veloso. The glamorous if pensive image of the singer on the cover might have been misleading as to the forward-thinking music contained within its grooves – alternately tense and relaxed, dark and sunny.

A major principle of tropicalia was antropofagia, basically a cultural “cannibalism” that encouraged the fusion of disparate influences to form something wholly new. The movement – which extended to literature, theatre and poetry, as well – had as its manifesto of sorts the album Tropicália: ou Panis et Circencis featuring contributions by Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Tom Zé, Os Mutantes and Gal Costa. The eponymous Gal Costa LP chronologically followed both Domingo, the traditional, bossa nova-flavored album with Veloso, and the radical Tropicália. Beautiful and unsettling, Gal Costa – sung in Portuguese, save one English track – continued to push the musical envelope with antropofagia in mind.

Rogerio Duprat, Gilberto Gil and Lanny Gordin provided the expansive, varied arrangements to frame Costa’s resonant voice. The politically-charged environment of young artists bristling at Brazil’s military government (which would arrest and imprison both Veloso and Gil in 1969) contributed mightily to Gal Costa’s countercultural, psychedelia-goes-to-the-tropics feel.  There’s more after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 11, 2014 at 10:29

Posted in Gal Costa, News, Reissues, Reviews

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