PRINT December 2004

Music: Best of 2004

Arto Lindsay


1. Zeca Pagodinho, Ao Vivo (Universal Music) This live CD was not only number one in Brazil but also the best new record released in recent memory anywhere in the world. Nobody phrases like this singer, who is just as hard-swinging and breathtakingly free as the heretofore unmatchable João Gilberto—though at the opposite end of the gentility spectrum.

2. Moacir Santos, Coisas (Universal International) Rereleased for the first time since it came out in 1965, this CD of big-band music by the arranger and composer from Pernambuco is as deep as Antonio Carlos Jobim and far rootsier. Rich charts and earthiness that no big band has achieved since make for a unique record.

3. Jamie Lidell/Matthew Herbert The most exciting performance style I caught this year was live sampling. The abandoned technology was revived by Supercollider’s Lidell and by Herbert in his “Radio Boy” show. Screaming, cooing, clicking, and groaning into a chain of cheap devices, building and looping a track from scratch in front of an audience, then vocalizing like a soul singer from Georgia over the top of it all, Lidell isn’t groundbreaking, just the most exciting thing you will ever see and hear.

4. Nuruddin Farah, Maps (Arcade Publishing) Farah’s new novel, about the return of an exiled professor to a Somalia struggling to reconstitute itself as a country after being torn apart by civil war, was the book I most wanted to read in 2004. And I was not disappointed. Mixing an unpretentious narrative style with truly confusing bits of folk wisdom, this is a great book about things one doesn’t read about in the papers. Books are second only to movie dialogue as a favorite place to lift lyrics.

5. and 6. Best live shows—both in Brazil: Naçâo Zumbi from Pernambuco and Liars from New York.

7. Audiences in Brazil and Naples. The audience is always at least half of the show.

8. José Eduardo Agualusa, O Ano em que Zumbi tomou o Rio (BookRing) A novel about the occupation of Rio by gangs from the hillside favelas aided by ex-combatants from the war in Angola. Way too prophetic. It’s not available in English yet, and I wonder how long that will take. Can one vote on what needs to be translated? Play a benefit?

9. Hair Stylistics The new band created by Masaya Nakahara after he finally declared Violent Onsen Geisha over. I haven’t heard the new recording, Custom Cock Confused Death (Daisy World Disc), but it will almost certainly be worthy of my top ten.

10. Domenico+2 This trio switches names and leaders for each record: The first was Moreno+2 and the third will be Kassim+2. They blend all manner of Brazilian styles with noise and electronica. This volume is the most interestingly produced recording I’ve heard since Fantasma by Cornelius. On that record, Keigo Oyamada discovered digital silence for all of us. Here, Domenico shows the world what you can do with digital editing and a little patience, with several crews taking apart and reassembling the same piece of music and then blending their efforts to provide an experience that belies its labor-intensive genesis.

Arto Lindsay is a musician who lives in New York and Brazil. His latest record is Salt, available on Righteous Babe Records.