Brazilian Girls make Aspen debut
November 8, 2006
Didi Gutman says he and his mates in the New York-based quartet Brazilian Girls don’t listen to music. “Hey Jesse,” he called to the bassist, Jesse Murphy, as the band waited for a flight out of Vancouver International Airport, “do you listen to music?” “Yeah,” I can hear Jesse respond. “OK,” Gutman, the keyboardist, says by phone, “one of us listens to music.”The fact that only one of four musicians who make up Brazilian Girls confirms he listens to music explains a lot about “Talk to the Bomb.” The band’s second CD, released in September, is, in fact, intensely musical, combining dance beats, synthesizers and horns beneath the cool lounge vocals of Sabina Sciubba.
But there seems to be more going on here than pop music. There’s a political edge to songs like “Never Met a German,” with its images of tanks rolling, and the title song. You’re not sure if “Talk to the Bomb” is intended to make you dance like there’s no tomorrow – or start contemplating the reality that there really might be no tomorrow, given the state of the world and the destructive capacity of its inhabitants. But the album is not strident in its political views but poetic, connecting sex to violence – “I almost have an orgasm when the tanks are rolling,” Sciubba sings in “Never Met a German” – and death to religion. The album contains a notable intelligence. The music is meticulously constructed, and conveys the sophistication of Paris of the 1920s and postwar Manhattan. (Gutman must have listened to music at some point in his life; he studied at Boston’s Berklee School of Music.) Sciubba, a native of Rome, sings in five languages, and in all of them, she conveys a worldly, knowing grasp of the planet.
With this mix of sex, intelligence and danger, “Talk to the Bomb” is as reminiscent of film noir as it is of rock ‘n’ roll. If there is a musical association, it would be to early Blondie, a dance music which happened to capture the essence of downtown New York, circa 1976.”We’re more influenced by movies, books, the political landscape. Our relationships,” said Gutman, a native of Buenos Aires who has lived in the States 14 years. “There wasn’t any band where we said, ‘Oh, that’s what we want to do.'”
Like film noir, “Talk to the Bomb” captures the uneasy tones of an unsettled time. The liner notes feature black-and-white, blurred images of the band; in one shot, Sciubba has her eyes blacked out.”It’s probably because these are dark times that we make dark music,” Gutman said. “We’re not very happy, really. We’re happy to have this time to play music with each other. But these times are kind of dark politically.”Doors open at 8 p.m. and showtime is 10 p.m. at the Belly Up, 450 S. Galena St. Tickets are $20.Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org