Awe-inspiring and all analog, Fabiano Do Nascimento fuses music and nature deep in the Amazon rainforest with enchanting results.
Sometimes, perhaps too often, music becomes a competition, a race to be the fastest and the newest, to be razor-sharp and halfway to the stratosphere from the outset. Sometimes, fire and flash are the only ways for a new record to grab hold of an audience oversaturated with countless musical options, and what should be a release becomes another source of stress, a barrage of volume and media play.
Fabiano Do Nascimento doesn't fall into those traps. He neither overthinks nor overproduces on sophomore release Tempo dos Mestres, a transcendent work whose sounds take their cues from indigenous South American cultures as surely as they do the distinctly Brazilian jazz stylings of avant-garde legends like Airto Moreira (who counts himself among Do Nascimento's fans and collaborators) and Hermeto Pascoal. Do Nascimento taps into the spirit of the Amazon -- the river, the rainforest, the entire region -- and from it pours forth unfettered analog beauty, recorded straight to tape with no overdubs. To call it magic would be too dismissive of the work Do Nascimento has put into translating both the stunning natural landscapes and rich musical history of Brazil from his perceptions to this album. Blood, sweat, deep love all play vital roles in building the atmosphere of Tempo dos Mestres.
Central to the album is, of course, Do Nascimento's classical guitar work. On opening track "Planalto", he whips up a flurry of fast and varied notes, a solid two minutes of precise acoustic strings strummed so densely that, though clean and quick, the track is lush, a melodic canopy to fall into with eyes shut. From there, the strings continue, joined by backing vocals, percussion, sax, and flute, each addition more enchanting than the last. Sometimes, easy samba beats glide into the mix, as well; they aren't the strongest moments, but they still sparkle, and they give the album a light touch instead of letting it sink beneath the weight of its impressive atmosphere.
That atmosphere, though, is where the album finds its center, when the percussion sounds like jungle noises and the strings level out into simpler patterns. Drenched in emotion, love song "Já que tú" balances Do Nascimento's skill for sonic layering with a perfect amount of breathing room, and single "Louva-a-Deus 'Mantis'" portrays its titular insect with lilting flute skittering through a semblance of steam and rain, taking a close look at a truly tiny piece of a brilliant ecosystem.
Songs like "Baião", "Brasileirinho", and "Sambando" add a familiar warmth to the mix, something closer to jazzier, more internationally well-known Brazilian exports. "Canto de Xangô" and "O Tempo" channel the softer moments of the Tropicália movement, though Do Nascimento strips them down in keeping with his gentler style. The album ends with the wistful "Matrisadan", a song for humid nights, filled with cool breezes rushing through silvery windchimes. It ends with a clear view to the starry heavens -- a final strum across Do Nascimento's guitar.
To feel awe is to heal a human soul with wonder, to be immersed in something larger than day-to-day life. Tempo Dos Mestres is an album inspired by scenes full of awe, and one that puts those scenes and senses into music. Fabiano Do Nascimento has accomplished something truly monumental: a singularly beautiful fusion, organic and seamless, of skillful music and raw, immense nature. This is a break from the unimportant, an album to give into and to love.