Aa, the latest EP from Ricardo Dias Gomes, is a hypnotic record with a strong emphasis on bass and rhythm. Gomes’ ability to manipulate bass tones reflects his acclaimed work on Caetano Veloso’s late 00s albums, Cê (2006), Zii and Zie (2009) and Abraçaço (2012). It makes sense that a bass player who spent so much time with one of the masters of Brazilian music, and music in general, would adopt a unique approach to his own solo material.
The album starts off with ‘Precipício,’ a song which implies this is going to be a drum and bass record which its not. Gomes’ narration sets the scene for an album that veers off into different experimental territories, leaving one feeling both dazed and satisfied. The funk breakbeat that appears in the second half of ‘Tele Parada,’ breathes a distinct life into the EP at the precise moment. It’s fitting that Caetano’s son Moreno features as a guest on the release’s funkiest track.
The third track on the EP featuring Arto Lindsay, ‘Fogo Chama,’ sounds like a song Jorge Ben would have recorded in the 70s. The ambient instrumentation going on in the background notwithstanding, this is the closest to Tropicalia that Aa gets. It’s a good record and along with ‘Tele Parada’ are the standout tracks from the EP.
Gomes’ narration on the ‘Partimos Daqui pt 1’ and ‘2’ tracks further situates this release within the experimental genre. ‘Paranormal’ has some great post-punk bass tone, and ‘1 2 3 Nenéns,’ features beautiful fingerpicked guitar performed in that incredible Brazilian style. Gomes whispers at the end of the track mimic the haunting tone.
The final track on the EP, ‘Pre-Revolutionary State,’ is reminiscent of one of the interludes on an Elephant 6 release by The Apples in Stereo or the Olivia Tremor Control. It’s a decidedly jarring way to end Aa, but appropriate for a recording that goes so many places stylistically.
It’s clear from Aa that Caetano Veloso hasn’t fallen off in terms of his collaborators in recent years. Ricardo Dias Gomes succeeded in recording an EP that mixes the sounds of Brazil with more experimental elements. The resulting album is a pleasure to listen to and one that leaves the listener feeling that not much time has passed by, which is always a great sign for a record.
Classical violinist and piano player. Mostly self-taught guitarist took lessons with Vic Juris who was sampled for Gang Starr’s Mass Appeal hit. Appeared in Music of the Heart with Meryl Streep (d. by Wes Craven.) Long-time home-recording artist.