Straight Outta Paraíba
My love for this Brazilian group is no secret; not only have I raved about them on this website here and here, but Piranha is actually quoting me on the back of this CD. So, yeah, I love Cabruêra’s eccentric mishmash of their country’s traditional musics (samba, forró, coco) with rock, jazz, hip-hop, and electronic music. That combination just kills me, every time, and no one does it better than these guys, who hail from Paraíbo, which is located in the previously unfashionable northeast.
But I was a bit underwhelmed when I first heard this disc. Not that it’s unpleasant; on the contrary, I thought it was great, fun, dancier than their debut, brighter, more listener-friendly. But it didn’t seem to go anywhere that they hadn’t already gone, and it was late last year when I was all obsessed with my 2005 year-end lists, and I kinda blew it off.
But it’s a new year, and all my list-making is done, and I can listen to Proibido Cochilar with new ears—and this album is a killer. Like their original, it’s got hot two-step numbers like “Xingatório” and “Canção Pra Ninar”, it’s got trad stuff beefed up with state-of-the-art beats (“Auto de Zé Limiera”, “Espinhos”), it’s got drama and smarts for days. And Arthur Pessoa is still doing that whole esferográfico guitar thing (ballpoint pen + guitar = great texture), and Zé Guilherme is still the avant-gardiste in the group, and it’s all like before…
...except, as it turns out, it’s not. It takes a while to figure this out on casual listens, but this album is subtler and more textured than their self-titled record. “Batendo o Martelo Nas Mesmas Cabeças” (“Hitting the Hammer on the Same Heads”) takes traditional forró music and injects afrobeat guitars and 1960s flutes. The way they mess with tempo on the traditional “Carcará” is a new and welcomed wrinkle, and I love the way they sample 90-year-old singer/flautist Zabé to give his his own track on “Zabé Sabe”. “Magistrado Ladrão” is probably the only dance track ever to use words from Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer’s “Dialectic of Enlightenment”. (Sure, that’s a trope stolen from Caetano Veloso, but it works like a bastard.) (And the appended drum-and-bass remix by Marcelinho da Lua is certainly the hottest Adorno/Horkheimer remix since, um, ever.)
So I was wrong to not include this on my 2005 top 10 list, probably, although it would have been cheating if I did, because it was actually released in Brazil in 2004, albeit in a different sequence and without all the bonus tracks—wait, hold up, I just noticed that this is getting a 2006 release here in the U.S.! So it’s back in contention, which is fine by me. Because it’s a great freak of a record, and I love it very much in this new year.