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Terreno Baldio - Além Das Lendas Brasileiras CD (album) cover


Terreno Baldio


Eclectic Prog

3.72 | 25 ratings

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4 stars After their debut and namesake album - well praised by the specialized critic and by the faithful audience; TERRENO BALDIO decided to release an album telling musically the stories behind some fine Brazilian legends, drinking directly from our folklore: "Além Das Lendas Brasileiras". However, which legends to choose amid hundreds of them? They went to the most popular ones, those legends that are taught at elementary school and presented by the kids at the Folklore Day (April) or at the School Year's End (December), in reality mainly those with universal appeal.

TERRENO BALDIO certainly caught inspiration from European prog bands, always eager to sing the fates and dramas of their own legends, but this time spicing our own with the sunny flavor so profuse and abundant down here in Terra Brasilis. Some may say that they should focus on a sole theme making musical variations around it, well I cannot remember easily the odds of the time being when the tracks were recorded but seeing from the present perspective the result is neatly fair and catchy, humorous and warm many times, fascinating almost all the time.

It's obvious that without some kind of explanation songs sound meaningless for non-Brazilian ears and even not translating the lyrics if a glimpse of the legends are displayed a foreigner will have the chance to understand what the tunes intend to say. It's also worth to notice that some legends have regional differences, the text presented may eventually vary here and there throughout the country.

'Caipora', this being is a feral kid that protects the wild animals from hunting doing all sort of tricks to frighten hunters and other wrongdoers. He is generally portrayed as a hairy guy with strange feet, having a dark skin and a nervous laughing and riding a giant wild boar. The hillbillies when need to hunt for nutrition, not for amusement, offer tobacco to distract the caipora attention, since this creature is addicted to pipe smoking. This legend has a native origin but was modified by the backwoodsmen and it spreads basically in all Brazil's corners and that's the reason why TERRENO BALDIO present a song that has a typical hillbilly approach with references to all parts of the country. The way the song runs looks like the caipora pace and the backing vocals intended to be haunting are in fact funny and a bit childish - a fair recommendation for the mentioned school's celebrations.

'Saci-Pererê' is a forest elf, portrayed as a one-legged black kid, with a red beret and always smoking a pipe (Brazilian legends need to restrain their smoking addiction). He's a mischievous being that haunts the children, makes things disappear, does mockeries, cheats, disturbs, bothers whenever he is and always escaping in a small vortex or tornado he is able to create. Mothers use his figure to make the kids behave. The saci is the most popular of the Brazilian legends, being recognized in all parts of the country. In recent times, he becomes softer and milder; thanks to writers and fabulists that have shaped a more humane figure for the saci, making him a symbol of the adolescence, a bit confused and senseless but determined. Although of Amerindian background it's clear that this entity is a mix with some African goblin. Also the pest is related to a nocturnal bird (Tapera naevia, Cuculidae family) known as matinta-pere or matinta-pereira considered the bad guy of the woods due to its cuckoo-like behavior (nest parasitism); the bird's voice is weird and frightening. TERRENO BALDIO view of the infamous saci is amusing, with the instruments and vocals trying to reproduce the one-leg walking and the swirl where the saci hides himself.

'Passaredo' means flight of birds and TERRENO BALDIO pays homage to the several legends related to birds grabbing inspiration from the song written by Chico Buarque and Francis Hime, two giants of the Brazilian music. Here the band add a particular approach to the original song, providing it with a joyful intro and a respectful singing; the lyrics deserve it: "hey, nightingale, bluebird and blackbird, fly oriole, goldfinch and thrush, go tanager and jay, hide hummingbird, walk swallow, go sparrow, take off dove, please keep silent, please be aware, the man is coming, the man is coming, the man is coming."

'Primavera' (Springtime) although not a real legend is a manner to collectively celebrate all Brazilian flowers, including the beautiful victoria-regia, the largest of all existing flowers, a common view in many rivers and lakes in Brazil. TERRENO BALDIO recorded a plain and catchy song, embellished by good lyrics and that's enough.

'Lobisomem' (Werewolf) is the only European legend kept equal to the original, probably because instead of landed here with the Portuguese in the XVI & XVII centuries, this legend was brought with Italian or German immigrants that arrived a mere century and a half ago. TERRENO BALDIO went fusion to tell the werewolf story, making this track quite diverse from the general album atmosphere.

'Curupira' is very similar to the caipora but this being is the protector of plants and trees instead of animals. The curupira looks like an Indian boy but with red hair and green teeth; he's the terror of lumberjacks and gold miners but rubber extractors offer him some tobacco (another smoker!) and pinga, a raw beverage produced from the sugar cane, in order to be granted to work (rubber extraction from the seringa tree does few damage to the vegetation). The curupira may be extremely revengeful when finding an illegal woodcutter and for this reason he has been portrayed as a symbol in the defense of the forest. This legend comes directly from the Tupian people, the native tribes that were most common along the coast when the Europeans first appeared here. TERRENO BALDIO visited the theme with a characteristic native sound, exquisite and mysterious; here the band goes very progressive, with intense instrumental action, quaint vocals and sudden rhythm changes to show the various faces of the entity pictured.

'As Amazonas', the traditional Greek legend of the amazons was brought to Brazil by the first Portuguese settlers and sailors and here it blended with similar legends of the native people (especially in the north where lived the Arawaks), like those of the icambiaras, beautiful women who weren't not only warriors but attractive lovers and terrible witches, able to seduce men to shape a new generation of amazons and also to make their mates to die bloodless. TERRENO BALDIO went crazy to describe this legend and it didn't work making this the weakest album track.

'Iara' is also a legend taken from Europe but stylized, where the mythological siren is portrayed as a beautiful native girl, associated with the manatee, strange mammals that live in the Brazilian rivers (they have a close relative in Florida, USA). The iara appears to solitary men instigating them with her beauty and sweetness to dive into a sexual intercourse that after completed will take the poor seduced dudes to a madness state and eventually death - anyway, the iara is a fine excuse when a married man go to a different happy hour. The iara has a male equivalent, named boto (also a fluvial mammal similar to the dolphins), which supplies a fair explanation for a non-explainable pregnancy. However, those features only happen today in the deepest heart of the country where still the matuto, the Brazilian yahoo lives. TERRENO BALDIO made a soft and kind approach to the legend reaching a fair and enjoyable result.

'Negrinho do Pastoreio' is the only legend probably based on a real character although the story has changed hugely as time passes by. This legend traces its origins in the southernmost part of the country but it is well-known everywhere. It tells the misfortunes of an orphan slave kid that was tortured and killed for a lesser prank, probably because he slept while taking care of the cattle, but the real cause varies depending on the region and the story-teller. After this, the boy's spirit appears in several places haunting those that chastise children and protecting infants from sickness and from being spanked. Being killed while pure and innocent he protects all those who are pure and innocent too. TERRENO BALDIO went poignant and sorrowful to transform into song this sad story, making this track the album's best together with 'Passaredo', a gorgeous adieu to this interesting release.

Rating this album isn't an easy task since the ties with the nation's folklore must not be overlooked mainly when the reviewer is part of the scenario. "Além Das Lendas Brasileiras" is good but also essential if you live here or either if you are honestly interested in knowing another reality. Total: 4.

Some final notes: my review was based on a LP taken on loan from a great friend to whom I thank wholeheartedly. Also parts of the legend stories where translated from Brazilian educational sites that are unfortunately unable to be displayed here.

Atkingani | 4/5 |


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