Graveola: Camaleão Borboleta

With a new experiment every track, Graveola's latest charts a psychedelic journey through Brazil.


Camaleão Borboleta

Label: Mais Um Discos
US Release Date: 2016-09-16

From the first few notes of Camaleão Borboleta, it's tempting to compare Graveola to decades' worth of its countrymen. On opening track "Maquinário", singer Luiz Gabriel-Lopes sounds almost identical to a young Caetano Veloso, and the Tropicália spirit thrives throughout the album as Graveola experiments with psychedelia and West African-inspired rhythms. Echoes of more esoteric artists like Os Mutantes and Tom Zé touch each song, as well, and penultimate track "Back in Bahia" directly references Gilberto Gil's post-exile song of the same name.

But Graveola lives in the present, and its third album proves it with everything from songs about the trials and tribulations of living in the age of the Internet to the struggles and protests of native Brazilians during the anti-demolition protests leading up to the 2014 World Cup. An ode to smokable herbs and love songs about seas and summers help to round out an all-encompassing album.

While many lyrics focus on local sentiments and issues, Graveola's eclectic musical style knows no borders. Samba melts into reggae, and other rhythms come from all directions, whether from neighboring Argentina or distant Cape Verde. Such variety and enthusiasm for experimentation usually keeps Camaleão Borboleta fresh, but backfires when the group doesn't fully commit. Track "Aurora" opens with bright blasts of salsa-style horns that dissipate all too quickly. When the trumpets return, slow and mournful, it feels unnecessary, brass for the sake of brass.

More abstract experiments find more success. Vivid "Costi" twists and pulls a melancholy samba into a psychedelic masterpiece, laced with electric fuzz and crashing cymbals. Modern drums and an ominous hint of bass whip irrepressible protest song "Índio Maracanã" into a frenzy, taking traditional rhythms to the boiling point. Closing track "Carta Convite" takes a short, simple acoustic guitar song and adds the sounds of slow-moving printers with perfect pitch, a fitting and strange end to the release.

Going in so many directions at once makes it hard to pick any tracks that stand out from all the rest. Listened to straight through, however, Camaleão Borboleta charts a day-long journey through the vast cultural diversity of Brazil, from the sunny morning heard in "Maquinário" to the slower, starlit tracks marking the journey's end. Some songs, especially the experimental ones, mark destinations, points along the way worth stopping to see. Others, more straightforward, classical tunes, do the traveling, scenery for the in-between stretches. Of these, the emotional "Back in Bahia", written and sung by percussionist Luiza Brina, is perhaps the most accessible, not just because Brina sings in English, but because of its instant familiarity. Painted with the same brush as any classic bossa nova tune and further colored with electric strings, "Back in Bahia" rings bittersweet and beautiful.

Graveola always shoots for the moon, and often hits its mark, playing with electronic and tropical sounds that add layers of complexity and intrigue to its indie rock. Even when it misses the mark, though, there's something to be learned, whether it's a new sound or a style fusion nobody has tried before. Now three albums into its career, Graveola has proven itself to be a group with the guts to try everything once, and for the imperfections that brings, it also demonstrates a heaping amount of staying power. Wherever Graveola goes next, listeners will follow, as ready for musical triumphs as they will be for the inevitable bumps along the way.





How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.


From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?


The 50 Best Songs of 2007

Journey back 13 years to a stellar year for Rihanna, M.I.A., Arcade Fire, and Kanye West. From hip-hop to indie rock and everywhere in between, PopMatters picks the best 50 songs of 2007.


'Modern' Is the Pinnacle of Post-Comeback Buzzcocks' Records

Presented as part of the new Buzzcocks' box-set, Sell You Everything, Modern showed a band that wasn't interested in just repeating itself or playing to nostalgia.


​Nearly 50 and Nearly Unplugged: 'ChangesNowBowie' Is a Glimpse Into a Brilliant Mind

Nine tracks, recorded by the BBC in 1996 show David Bowie in a relaxed and playful mood. ChangesNowBowie is a glimpse into a brilliant mind.


Reaching for the Sky: An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Bruce Sudano

How did Bruce Sudano become a superhero? PopMatters has the answer as Sudano celebrates the release of Spirals and reflects on his career from Brooklyn Dreams to Broadway.


Inventions Conjure Mystery and Hope with the Intensely Creative 'Continuous Portrait'

Instrumental duo Matthew Robert Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky) release their first album in five years as Inventions. Continuous Portrait is both sonically thrilling and oddly soothing.


Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch Are 'Live at the Village Vanguard' to Raise Money for Musicians

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch release a live recording from a 2018 show to raise money for a good cause: other jazz musicians.


Lady Gaga's 'Chromatica' Hides Its True Intentions Behind Dancefloor Exuberance

Lady Gaga's Chromatica is the most lively and consistent record she's made since Born This Way, embracing everything great about her dance-pop early days and giving it a fresh twist.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.


Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.


Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.