Curumin (born, awesomely, Luciano Nakata Albuquerque) doesn’t play by your rules, or any rules you can think of. He’s a Brazilian guy of part-Japanese parentage who has spent a lot of time in a lot of different places. His vision is huge, his ears are open wide, and he tramples down boundaries like it’s his job. WHICH IT IS.
So don’t bring any kind of pre-conceived ideas to the listening party when you slide Arrocha into your player of choice. He’s gonna mess with your ears and your head about sixteen different ways, and you need to understand that that is okay.
There’s a little sly tropicalia here and there; “Passarinho,” which would have fit right in on the classic 1972 Milton Nascimento/Lô Borges record Clube da Esquina, and “Acorda” sounds like one of the more experimental Caetano Veloso/Gilberto Gil tracks. But then he’s gonna hit you with other things, like the dubbed-out reggae of “Doce” and “Vestido de Prata” (paging Carlinhos Brown), the glitchy Nortec-influenced “Selvage,” and the freaked-out swamp-slop funk of “Treme Terra.” He’s got a million of ‘em, and they’re all lethal.
Curumin is most effective when he gives himself the space to really mess with us. Along with the tracks previously mentioned, sinuous opener “Afoxoque” benefits from not being able to be pinned down in any way.
Too often, however, Curumin settles for the one- or two-minute filler sketch. Snippet tracks like “Sapo Cururu” and “BlimBlim” are kind of fun, but I find them half-baked and unsatisfying, especially when two or three of them are stacked together. I know how to use the “skip” button, so it’s not really a problem, but the whole record comes out to about 35 minutes, so the interesting part of this record is really more of an EP than anything else. ‘Tis pity there aren’t more ideas here, because the ones that remain are fascinating.