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Arrigo Barnabé - Clara Crocodilo CD (album) cover


Arrigo Barnabé



4.27 | 37 ratings

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5 stars Review nº 213

Arrigo Barnabé - Clara Crocodilo

Originally a musical play full of criticism and counterculture , essential for MAGMA & ZEUHL FANS.

First of all, let me praise this wonderful brazilian concept album, a masterpiece of the underground progressive, technical Rock in Opposition. Unfortunatelly we have only two reviews for Arrigo Barnabé's albums in the ProgArchives. But just check them and you will understand what I'm talking about. Arrigo is my favorite (even stronger than Zappa and Zorn in my inspiration list), and after my long research into music I couldn't say anything less than, the best, most creative and innovative composer into Twelve-Tone atonality tecnique, a.k.a DODECAPHONISM. Beware, folks. Into these tracks what you will find is the real, solid hard listening avant-garde music. Definitely speaking, not for kids or light hearted musicians. What Arrigo leads in his debut is an ironic agressive opera satirizing the degraded life in the big city of Sao Paulo, fulfilled with well worked tunes, hailed as the most inventive creation out of the mold of what is meant by traditional popular music, infiltrating the brazilian radio with a perfect mix of heavy/prog rock, jazz and dissonant classical. Also, I'm a saxophonist/guitarist and I play some keys. I can tell you all the scores here are totally brilliant, end to end. Wanna upgrade your prog level? Take this.

Second, let's take a look at the background. His name once was popular in TV, radios and big festivals. In 1979, Arrigo won TV Cultura's MPB Festival with the intelligent, visionary songs "Diversões Eletrônicas" and "Infortúnio", even with a line of booing conservationists against him in the crowd. At TV Tupi's MPB Festival, he got first place and some other awards with "Sabor de Veneno" (which aroused considerable polemics too). This first LP was released in 1980, followed by a national tour. In 1981 the album was awarded with the APCA (São Paulo's Art Critics' Association) prize. Next year, Barnabé participated in the Berlin Jazz Festival with his project. After this, he starts writing soundtrack for movies (he participates in some of the same films). He was founder of the Vanguarda Paulista music scene (urban classically trained musicians of the city of São Paulo who added erudite experimentations to pop music). I can't believe how most of his albums were buried so deep. I was searching for an original Clara Crocodilo copy and hell, it was the equivalent to 300 dollars! During a 79' interview with the brainchild, after questioned about his influences, he said his works were most inspired by comics (Robert Crumb, Will Eisner) than music. Well, if you can find any clue of the original musical play, you will find some original comics too. The lyrics, and even words, were carefully chosen too, making the plot ironic about the current brazilian settings of its time: military dictatorship. Unfortunattely, in our studio version some of the phrases had to be changed thanks to policy. It doesn't matter or affects the suite at all. The words Clara (feminine name) and Crocodilo (crocodile) were chosen to cause a grammar impact. The lyrics tells a story about an Office Boy and his saga until his Kaiju transformation into Clara Crocodilo. The rhymes and choruses are actually hilarious in a clever way. If you have the chance to dig the lyrics, throw it all in a translator and decrypt the phrases while listening (remember the brazilian settings of that time and figure the second thoughts), you will not regret and will enchance your experience with the album. The more you listen to, more you realize the details. For example, there was a short part where, at first, sounded like each wind instrument were playing random improvisation. After some time my ears dissected the track, sax by sax, so I noticed they're playing the same riff, but each one playing in a different speed.

Finally, the music, in itself. What can I say? It contains the most authentic narrative form into music. Arrigo Barnabé plays the piano and all the keys/synth, and have been introduced to the twelve tone method after a gift from his girlfriend: a pocket book about dodecaphonism, the classical composer Arnold Schönberg, this kind of things. The band playing together is called Sabor de Veneno. You will notice that Arrigo loves to blend his aggressive, harsh voice with high octave girls, with epic results. Some of the women featured in the album followed a succesful career in later years, as Tetê Espíndola. There are a bunch of... something like "vocal riffs": repeated phrases in a weird choir, which would be a big appeal for Magma fans, as I already said. Once those lines gets into your head, it will be stucked there. Acapulco Drive-In and Orgasmo Total are a sarcastic kick in the eye, what a freak intro for an album. They are a good warming-up for the coming suite. In the second track you will taste some of Arrigo's piano and vocal. It's a track that gets better until the climax. So we reach the first Zheulish suite, in opera style: Diversões Eletrônica. This track shows the reason why they came. The lyrical story is a great entertainment, and the way it perfectly mixes with the music takes the listener to a demented mental theater. The synth made the perfect atmosphere for the urban "arcade" mania of the late 70s theme. It's packed with instrumental jokes, like the saxophone "laughing" while you'll hear a woman singing 'bout a wicked laughter. B side. Sabor de Veneno is a short (3 minutes) of definitive Clara Crocodilo. I mean, if you wanna know the potential of the band, just listen to this track and you will be surprised: yes, this is only a short track. This was the track which introced me to this cultural shock, shocking as a dead male pregnant little baby dancing around ice cream bubbles. It's also a genial preparation for Infortúnio: a track where, in 5 minutes they could easily disable any other prog track I ever heard. It begins slowly and funeral, with a soprano voice telling a tale of a woman who lost her husband. The track grows freak to heaviness but technically, energetic as a Gentle Giant tune, while the letter shows the tragic drunk bitch end to the widow's life. So, the main suite, Clara Crocodilo starts here, with Office-Boy. The intro has a impossible multiple score sync. The following scene gives an eletric shower in everyone who sits to enjoy the show. Frames of random intrigues, common struggles in ordinary life and the plot border the ridiculous absurd. Clara Crocodilo, the great climax, stroke the surrealism with a pneumatic jellyfish jolt. After about a minute of presentations (some comedy here) Clara Crocodilo is released. Actually, Calra Crocodilo's moment of release is a rebellion anthem against dictatorship: "Quem cala consente eu não calo/não vou morrer nas mãos de um tira/quem cala consente eu desacato/não vou morrer nas mãos de um rato". It would be something like this: "Silence is consent, I do not/ I will not die at the hands of a (tyrant) cop/ Silence is consent, I contempt / I will not die at the hands of a rat." The original line to come after this was removed from the album due to even more explicit revolutionary. A sudden silence and Arrigo double dare you to resist the short weighty musical jab. The girls are asking for another short heavy punch. The suite proceeds to the labyrinth stage, and so on until a whole new brass oriented heavy metal anthem. Instante is the mystical ending theme, refreshing your brain after this cold psychedelic eruption without lose the volcano vomiting meltdown rainbow sense.

Arrigo Barnabé is still active. After Clara Crocodilo, he writes a lot of highly awarded soundtracks and albums, some of them listed here in ProgArchives too, including the masterpieces Tubarões Voadores and another avant-prog opera called Gigante Negão. He's currently working with Luiz Tatit and Lívia Nestrovski (amazing voice!). Being extremely out of any unimaginable boundaries, Arrigo's debut strikes down: An evidence that you can make weird stuff sound catchy, with good taste. Absolute classic, a must.

VOTOMS | 5/5 |


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