"1 REAL has enough boogie to rock across different cultures while still singing of sex, love, deceit and the difficulties of the poor working class."
Personnel: Monica Feijo, Claudia Beija, Hugh Cornwell (vocals); Gabriel Melo (guitar).
1 Real makes a couple things clear about Brazilian mix & match master DJ Dolores. Number one is that his stylistic parameters are pretty well set since the overall sound of his third release doesn't differ much from his earlier CDs -- there's a bit more reliance on orthodox grooves, perhaps, but it's still dance music that throws Brazilian elements into the mix but doesn't sound particularly Brazilian, especially rhythmically where you would expect it. Second, this is very much an intellectual (or conceptual) take on dance music, more about creatively layering and texturing elements drawn from a wide array of sources than necessarily inducing unrestrained frenzy on the dancefloor. "Deixa Falar" opens with percussion and builds incrementally over a four-on-the-floor dance beat with house organ and horns behind female singer Isaar, who is one of those noticeably Brazilian elements, before cutting off abruptly with a yappin' dawg. Homegrown sounds also come in courtesy of Maciel Salu's rabeca (violin, but sounding more like a country fiddle), used to evoke the flavor of Recife roots revivalists Mestre Ambr¢sio in "Proletariado" and playing off a drum machine set on beat overdrive in "Wakaru." (Careful with using the musicians credits on the CD booklet credits, though, because the track numbers don't match up.) A blaring trombone fades in to kick off "Cala Cala," the catchiest song of this lot, with horns and chicken-scratch funky rhythm guitar underpinning the groove, and a meandering vocal melody from Isaar that salutes unregenerate idealists. The horn section gets a pretty snappy complementary melody to play, too. "J.P.S." is a paean to Jean Paul Sartre and a criticism of body worship culture featuring French cafe accordion from Andr‚ Juliao over a slinky cumbia bassline and vocals that end up in chanson … la Manu Chao or Zebda territory. And philosophy major DJs, if you've been longing for a recording with a brief chant of "phenomenology" to sample, your wait is now over.
Of course, that is immediately followed by a woman asking "Have you ever seen a flying horse?" which surrealistically kicks off what DJ Dolores adeptly describes as his attempt at fusing poetry with surf music "...but at some point I lost control and the song ended up sounding like an old Brazilian garage-rock band would sound if they already had computers in the '70s." Or maybe it's the Fleshtones with trumpet recording the theme to the long-delayed sequel "Return of the Vindicators" on a beachfront set somewhere around Recife. Kinda sorta. "N£meros" plays Isaar off swirling accordion that at times morphs into a muted trumpet but 1 Real trails off into nothing after that and it seems that DJ Dolores may be coming up against a real creative dilemma here. Delving into the music and dissecting the elements to any given song is rewarding enough if you care to do so -- the problem is that too often there is no compelling reason to do that because the music isn't catchy and/or warm enough. That is more an intellectual process with a certain distance and coldness to the calculation, and when the novelty of the approach wears off, 1 Real doesn't offer much of an emotional connection to fall back on. ~ Don Snowden