A melancholic air of fantasy swirls around the crisp pop beats that form the backbone of Noir Brésil, electropop artist Yndi Ferreira’s first album under her own mononym. Formerly Dream Koala, Yndi – based in Berlin, raised in Paris, with roots in Brazil – draws on her past, present, and future in creating the album’s luscious soundscape. It’s a mix of Afro-Brazilian-influenced percussion, mellow guitar, dramatic piano, streamlined electronics, and her winsome voice. This vulnerable instrument serves as the album’s incredibly poignant emotional core from start to finish. Noir Brésil may be moody, self-produced pop, but it still feels expensive, extravagant, huge; it has an atmosphere on a planetary scale and inescapable thematic and sonic gravity.
Weighty though it is, though, Noir Brésil moves in many ways over its 13 tracks. It begins in slow, fluid motion, the solemn keys of “Ailleurs” laying the foundation for Yndi’s voice to dance, twist, and echo, lyrics of waves, tides, and horizons rising and falling over stormy drums. The staccato beats of “Noir Brésil” are fiery and entrancing; percussion and classical guitar move together in airy flows on “Amazona”. Dizzying “Novo Mundo” might be the album’s most exciting piece, laced with gliding strings that lift the images Yndi conjures of hope and rebirth in both French and Portuguese, native tongues that offer her new and natural poetic avenues throughout Noir Brésil.
In “Nuit”, Yndi takes us somewhere darker. Beats rattle in negative space under the minimalist pulse of synths and Yndi’s near-breathless voicing from the edge of an existential void. Acoustic interlude “Ilusão” offers a brief moment of aftercare before the impassioned throes of rhythmic “Exil”. “O Canto Das Ondas” sways, a delicate piece of bossa nova for a rainy day. “Reliques” crescendos, starting with naked voice and gradually accumulating guitar, bass, and polyrhythmic percussion until, by the last half of the piece, everything is ecstatic. The urgent “Eternel” is sliced through by sheer electricity, while “Saudade” revels in its titular longing, and “Dia De Carnaval” drifts. Finally, Yndi reaches “Eden”. Near-cinematic piano chords span the length of the majestic closing track, and the music stripped down to a bare minimum to end the album as wistfully as it began.
The elemental realm of Noir Brésil makes for a vibrant start to this latest chapter of Yndi Ferreira’s musical career. Through it, Yndi branches out into other modes of expression – “Nuit” comes accompanied by both a computer-animated video and a game for iOS and Android – and sets herself even further apart from other dabblers in dreamy electropop. By melding together sonic palettes from her ancestral lineage and her direct personal experience, Yndi makes music that is fresh and inimitable, all her own no matter how nostalgic and familiar the sounds might be to her audiences. Poetic, sometimes primordial, and always passionate, Noir Brésil stands out as a dynamic and borderline spiritual work of pop music and signals great things ahead for Yndi as she continues down this promising and complex new leg of her journey.