ACL Review: Luísa Maita

Brazilian electro delicacy and skronk

Forget what you know about Brazilian music. In most cases that likely means bossa nova, Os Mutantes’ psychedelia, and the extreme thrash of Sepultura. It should also include the sound of Fio da Memória, the second album from Luísa Maita.

Photo by Jana Birchum

On that disc, São Paulo’s rising star – dubbed “the new voice of Brazil” by NPR – plies a dreamy and sensual brand of Brazilian pop that draws heavily from electronica and trip-hop. Live on Saturday afternoon in the Tito’s tent, the 34-year-old singer left its ethereality behind for a sound much louder and messier. Ultimately more rewarding, that vision stands out among her country’s peers.

Maita’s voice rang out over the stage even before she appeared, the drummer generating a series of beats and percussion noises from his Octapad. As the guitarist and bassist/producer Ze Nigro joined in, the rhythms coalesced into the busy Afro-Brazilian groove of “Around You,” the main attraction strolling onstage to the mic. The set quickly left behind public radio accessibility.

Dub bass joined hands with skittering electro percussion and fingerpicked guitar. Twisted bossa nova rhythm gave way to arena rock breakdowns polluted by six-string skronk. Middle Eastern grooves duetted with classic rock licks before pausing for a noisy Octapad solo.

The band crossed cultures and rhythms with carefully arranged and performed chaos.

Maita, her voice stronger and more resonant than on her recordings, sang across melodies, soaring like a hawk in a storm with confidence and poise. At close, she left as she came in, letting the band ride an Afro-Brazilian groove home as she exited stage right. A modest crowd served witness to a musical spectacle unlike anything else, from Brazil or elsewhere.

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Luísa Maita, ACL Fest 2016, Ze Nigro, Os Mutantes, Sepultura

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