The word organic gets thrown around a lot in describing the mixture of acoustic instruments and digital sounds of recent electronic music, but the term often neglects its own aesthetic relevance. Attention is paid to the recording process and the organic novelty, but often the emotional result on the listener is overlooked. While European acts such as Jazzanova and Dimitri from Paris have experimented successfully with electro-samba beats, never has electro-acoustic music been so pleasing as with the Brazilian electronica movement that saw a peak in interest and output this year. Brazilians such as Suba (Sao Paulo Confessions), Amon Tobin (Supermodified), Joao Parahyba and, especially, Bebel Gilberto have managed to conjure up the soft and sandy beaches of Rio, the sweat-inducing rhythms at Carnaval and the sweet, lush taste of a caipirinha cocktail.

Brazilian-born filmmaker Iara Lee has contributed much to this movement through her record label, Caipirinha, which released the compilation Caipirissima. On the CD, both Tobin and Suba (Brazilian transplant Mitar Subotic) churn Batucada percussion rhythms into perfect vehicles for trance inducement. Even Brazilian-raised avant rock guitarist Arto Lindsay gives it a go, as he has done so well on his trilogy of electro-Brazilian releases.

It would be difficult to appreciate the bossa nova aesthetic without mentioning Joao Gilberto, and his evident influence on his daughter helps make her one of the current movement's leaders. Bebel Gilberto's long-awaited debut Tanto Tempo (Portuguese for "so much time") has been heralded as among this year's best releases. Featuring Tobin, Suba and Parahyba, the CD epitomizes Brazilian electronica at finest. For those interested in electronic music with an exotic feel, this is a good start. Tanto Tempo lingers long after first listen.

Sadly, there wasn't so much time for Suba. During a fire in his Sao Paulo apartment, he ran back into the building to retrieve computer discs for Gilberto's CD. The discs were saved, but Suba later died of smoke inhalation. He would not live to see the realization and acceptance of a musical sound he helped reinvent, a movement that will continue to thrive, even in his absence.


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