Mama Mundi

The mother of the world that generated Gagarin also generated Mestre Vitalino, the first man to emerge as a fetus out of the atmosphere and the artisan who extracts living forms from the clay of the earth. This image, suggested in the song that gives name to Chico César’s new album, Mama Mundi, says a lot about the experience of the last generations that lived the fulminant passage from regional niches to planetary feeling. It is well marked in this Paraíba from Catoté do Rocha whose father, Francisco (whom we overheard singing in the “Dança do Papangu”), practiced the Northeastern reisados ​​since always, by family tradition, while the boy, carried away by the wave of the times, strayed and became cosmopolitan, gaining transit in Brazil and abroad. Like other Brazilian musicians who passed from the sertão to the world, Chico César is a literally cool ethnic, native of a space without a gate, dancing on purpose a dance that “balances” between Okinawa and Aquidauana.

The record is composed of expressly danceable songs, such as the aforementioned “Dança do Papangu”, the forró “Nego Forro”, the coco ‘Aquidauana”, the samba-enredo “ Sonho de Curumim”, alongside lyrical songs, such as the luminous love declaration “4h e 15 ou l0 p/ 3”, the cutting “Tambor”, tending towards b!ues, the assumed mass romanticism of “Pensar em Vocé” , the mysteriously beautiful “Maybe You”, the Cape Verdean-flavored tune (also called “morna”) “Barco”, and a subtle recreation of “Sou Rebelde” (Lilian’s post-Leno hit in the 1970s).

In Mama Mundi, dance is often, in addition to its rhythmic appeal, a reason for meditation on social life and human destiny. In some cases, the rhythmic deceleration makes this more evident, as in “Folklore”, xote-reggae that speaks of a batuque from Maranhão – the lelê (“I went to lelê to dance lelê iá, I danced wanting to calm down / to understand, read and writing / mentalizing, telling the mysteries of the place”). Diving into the internal universe of popular dance from Maranhão awakens the present feeling of the country’s needs and the song ends, certainly not by chance, with a low and surprising visceral “speech” without words. “A Força que Never Seca”, a partnership with Vanessa da Mata, already recorded by Maria Bethânia, is also a sung poem about the work dance with which the poor woman carries the water can on her head, keeping the delicate “blind balance” that makes the can, almost without visible effort, “stand straight”, stopped in its movement along the “dead road”, carried by the “force that never dries up”. Highlights include the (subtle) participation of the African musician Basuru Jobarteh and the percussion of Marcos Suzano and Naná Vasconcelos.

“Dança”, which was already part of the CD ‘Aos Vivos’ (which consecrated Chico César along with the song “Mama África”), is now back, re-recorded, in Mama Mundi with good reason. It is a song about the general culture broth in which rural communities and urban tribes ferment at the same time, with references to America (“dance on the dead cassava swiddens”), to Africa (“dance to the sad girl from Benin” ), to Europe (“angels in the skies of Berlin”), and to Asia mixed with the world of São Paulo (“Osasco / Osaka / rosa / bomb / maca / osses do office-curumim”). It is this same feeling of a globalized village that animates, in turn, the samba-plot “Sonho de Curumim”, which closes the album in the rhythm of “war / carnival of the nations” and “tróia no xingu”.

In fine tuning the lyrics and melody, Chico César continues with his findings, tongue twisters and playful puns with which he makes the words dance to the music. The “Dança do Papangu” (reference to the playful and mocking character of the reisados) aims to humorously excite, in a true festival of “uus”, without “tchan” or “U2”, without “tchururu” or “tchurururu”, both the Lady Diolinda from the MST and Lady Zu from soul and discothèque, deriving in the end to a funk mood. The classic cuddles of baião and the groaning in “ui” and “ai” (“who is inside does not come out”) appear in the syllabic flow of forró in “Nego Forro”, where the nylon guitar by Chico César and the steel guitar by Mário Manga, they compose an exciting and fleshy forró-de-viola together.

The motto of “Aquidauana” is a kind of multicultural riddle, echoing related diphthongs from indigenous and oriental words: “what there is / and what there is not / in Okayama and Okinawa / for the people of Aquidauana / I’ll have to ask”. The word game gives way to a long and tasty sudden, rhythmic by Naná Vasconcelos, playing with the enigma of differences in the uses, customs, manners and manners of places. The track opens with street sounds in Istanbul, a direct recording made on the occasion of one of Chico César’s numerous recent tours through this world of Mama. It is worth emphasizing here that the production of the CD (by Mário Manga, assisted by Chico César and Swami Junior) does not technically saturate the sound materials nor does it grow over the songs like a steamroller literally armed with the anabolic resource of compressors, lately overvalued. Breathing suitable for a disk that is also very yin prevails. In this case, the voice of the Turkish “Muezzin”, heard at the beginning, returns later for a moment and, quite by the way, subtly hovering over the coconut of “Aquidauana” like a dreamlike aboio.

Speaking of dreams, Nelson Ayres’ arrangements for the slow songs exquisitely accompany everything that is transparent and light in them. This is the case of “Barco”, in which the guitar’s arpeggios and phrases play against the strings, merged with the electronic sounds programmed by Sacha Ambak. Or “Sou Rebelde” and, even more, “Talvez Você” (partnership with Vicente Barreto), in which the descending phrases of the guitar, together with acoustic “glissandi” that blend beautifully with electronic “glissandi”, sustained by ethereal strings. , sometimes elongated, sometimes cropped, create a climate of subtle suspension in which something like vague wind, fluid memory, latent silence, floating desire merge. And speaking of floating desire, the last word goes to the desired one in “4h15 or 10 p/3”, lady-girl in the light of the horizon, for whom everything surrenders to the sound of the world’s bagpipes. Salvation, in Mama Mundi, if any, is written in the name: she is a woman.

José Miguel Wisnik – March/2000 What was said

“… well served by arrangers, chico césar also has the cream of Brazilian percussion on the cd….. In addition to marcos suzano, who participates in almost all tracks, the musician is supported by naná vasconcelos in “a Força que never dry”, already divinely recorded by Maria Bethânia, and in “Aquidauana”, the latter a delicious sampled coconut. , chico could not fail to record a forró on the album. “nego forro” has everything to burst in the forró houses in São Paulo, frequented today by the upper middle class of the city…” cardoso tone – sao paulo leaf (illustrated) – 03/13/2000

“… mama mundi is a very strong, deep record, with subtexts (literary and musical) to be explored for a long time. rupture, at the end of the 60s, by caetano veloso and gilberto gil. is almost a thesis record (almost because its beauty is more evident than its ideological foundation): chico césar is presenting a possible aesthetic solution to the question of post-modernism. modernity. working with opposites, reconciling contradictions, he made a brilliant, enlightening record: maybe it’s not definitive, because it has more concerns with which he will provoke us. let it be soon.” the state of sao paulo – 03/18/2000

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