The Power of TK

Write to Me:

See Also

100 Things About Me
The Bull's Testicles Project
Russia Trip: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5
Best of 2002: Movies, Books, Music.
Best of 2003: Movies.
Best of 2004: Movies, Books.
Best of 2005: Theater, Books.
Best of 2006: Theater, Books, Television.


Other Sites

My Slate archive
Day job podcasts
YST Movie Madness
Weblog Commenting and Trackback by

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Madredeus: Electronico
One advantage of listening to music on the computer is the ease of organizing playlists. The most recent Madredeus album, Electronico, consists of 13 of their classic tracks deconstructed and reconstructed in a variety of styles by a bunch of invited artists. With RealPlayer (I feel disloyal to the mothercompany, but my Real deal's a holdover from the days of my Big Brother 24/7 obsession), I was able to listen to the original tracks immediately followed by the remixes. I don't own all Madredeus’ albums, so I had just nine side-by-side experiences, but it was still extraordinarily illuminating.

Madredeus are a strange genre-spanning band. They're usually linked to fado, and while that Portuguese version of the blues is certainly a big influence on their music, they're far from a classic fado ensemble. There are elements of jazz, nods to Brazil, and strands of classical music (the type of romantic compositions that find their way into television ad campaigns), and most of all there is Teresa Salgueiro, who has a strong, clear voice for the ages.

I like Madredeus, but in their raw form I can't listen to them for too long. At times, I find Salgueiro's voice almost too clear; it reminds me of Joan Baez singing "Private Dancer": The voice is good, the song is good, but the tone is so crystalline, it's too "clean." Sometimes you need a bit of raunch when you're listening to music. The remixes on Electronico add a bit of raunch to Madredeus' music, and a wonderful thing it is.

The remixers all gave a little commentary (and I mean "little"—I'm probably in the Madredeus' predominant age demographic, and I had a hell of a time reading the tiny print—it's come to something when reading liner notes makes you feel old), and it seems as though many or most of them were unfamiliar with Madredeus before they took on the task of rearranging their songs. Nevertheless, there's only one track where I felt the remix degraded rather than enhanced the original—that was “Oxalá,” which Telepopmusik "genetically modified" by chopping up the vocal track and—God help us—introducing cheesy ‘80s-style claps and fake finger clicks. (Just to prove how extraordinarily out-of-step with the music world my opinions are, “Oxalá” seems to be the one track you can watch a music video for. Check out the link at the bottom of this page. Remember, the video is just 3:38, whereas the album track is 5:18. All the hand claps are in the “lost” 50 seconds.)

I’m not in love with the remix of “Guitarra” either. The original song isn’t one of my favorites. Ironically, since it features fado’s foundation, the 12-string guitar, if you take out the Portuguese lyrics, it sort of reminds me of a Newfie/Cape Breton hee-haw tune. Manitoba’s remix starts with and keeps returning to a gonzo drum solo—it’s like focusing on Gene Krupa rather than Anita O’Day—but at the same time it’s a creative deconstruction/reconstruction that focuses on the music’s underlying pattern rather than on the melody, so I give it points for that.

Since I can’t figure out how to record 30-second clips to illustrate what the remixes add to the original songs, I suppose I should just recommend that you go out and buy both Electronico and Madredeus’ best-of compilation, Antologia. Thus armed, you’ll be able to do your own side-by-side comparisons. But if you just want to buy one album, make it Electronico. Raunch is good.