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Album Review

Singer, songwriter, guitarist, and eminent sonic wizard Lenine likes to consider himself essentially as a composer. While he has maintained a very active career writing music for (and with) a multitude of Brazilian artists, performing worldwide, and getting involved in television and theater projects, his studio output is not exactly prolific, with only six releases in almost 30 years (plus two live albums). This, however, has not hampered Lenine from building a considerable reputation on the world music circuit, notably in France and Japan. Understandably, any news from this reticent but strikingly original and truly global artist is eagerly awaited by an attentive audience — and with good reason, since people this talented rarely disappoint. In this light, the release of Labiata was truly a significant event on the 2008 world music calendar. The album finds Lenine pursuing his unique blend of experiment and tradition, with a heavily textured sound that belies its dissonant complexity by means of both its graceful rhythms and its laid-back vocal style. Imagine a background of distorted Sonic Youth guitars intercut with Parliament funk riffs, but all miraculously quiet as opposed to loud, and then everything set to hypnotic Brazilian percussion tracks — reminiscent of those Paul Simon borrowed for The Rhythm of the Saints. A relentless drone — and yet, it grooves!

As has often been noted, Lenine is a true heir to the tropicalista movement in his ambition to mix the local (i.e., Brazilian, specifically from the Pernambuco region) with the universal (i.e., Western electric music). In this respect, it should also be mentioned that, among other things, Labiata is an experimental electric guitar album, one that should appeal equally (and perhaps surprisingly) to those interested in contemporary Brazilian music, as well as to fans of challenging players such as Adrian Belew and Marc Ribot. The tropicalismo legacy is also ostensibly in evidence in Lenine's lyrics, always eager to transform a pop song into a platform for poetic or philosophical meditations, very much in the vein of Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil. In typical Brazilian collaborative fashion, Lenine shares the writing credits with likeminded innovators on nine out of the album's 11 songs. Some make their presence unmistakably felt, as in the Arnaldo Antunes modernist lyrics for "O Céu é Muito" and "Excesso Exceto," and in "A Mancha," a number written with Lenine's first songwriting partner, Lula Queiroga, that immediately recalls the trademark sound of Lenine's early records. For a Brazilian audience, however, the most touching moment is probably "Samba e Leveza," Lenine's setting to music of a rare text by Chico Science, the late founder of the mangue beat movement whose influence on contemporary Brazilian music cannot be overstated — certainly not the least in Lenine's own musical vision. Labiata is named after a type of orchid, Lenine's favorite flower.

Customer Reviews

Absolutamente Fabuloso

Gosto de muito o ritmo desta música. Um amigo do músico me disse a semana passada sobre Lenine. Ele me disse a verdade. Este artista é maravilhoso, As composições são intricadas, mas funky. Quero ouvir mais desta artista.


Born: Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil

Genre: Brazilian

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Lenine has been an extremely popular artist in the '90s, mixing northeast grooves with pop music. His songs have been recorded by Dionne Warwick (his partner on "Virou Areia" in 1994), Gilberto Gil, Danilo Caymmi, Sérgio Mendes, Tim Maia, and others. From northeastern origin, Lenine absorbed the rich folklore of frevos and maracatus unconsciously, as he was into American rock since his teens. At 17, he was taken with the mineiros of the Clube da Esquina and by other MPB artists, such as Gilberto...
Full Bio
Labiata, Lénine
View In iTunes
  • $4.99
  • Genres: Brazilian, Music, World, Rock
  • Released: Oct 07, 2008

Customer Ratings