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Marco Antônio Araújo - Animal Racional CD (album) cover


Marco Antônio Araújo

Prog Folk

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Tarcisio Moura
4 stars A very good compilation of one of the most creative and unique prog songwriters of all time. Marco Antonio Araújo mixed prog rock with folk and strong classical influences plus some beatlesque colors here and there. His early demise in 1985 cut short a career that was only beginning to gain international recognition. Nevertheless the works he left are eternal. A different and beautiful instrumental music that sounds completely timeless. Always surrounded by the best musicians he could gather, Araujo took great pains to make sure his records were the best sounding LPs produced at the time A great feat at a time instrumental music was far from being popular.

Animal Racional is, together with his first CD Influências, a good starting point if you want a decent overview of his work without having to buy each of his four albums. The only weakness here is the absence of one of his greatest ever songs, Panoramica. I can´t believe this stunning tune was left over. Maybe the producer thought its inclusion would draw too much attention to his first album (his most popular and accessible).

Anyway, If you´re into great progressive instrumental music, with lots of classical influences, fantastic acoustic/electric guitar interplay, Jethro Tull-like flutes and general tasteful and intricate arrangements, and never heard about Araújo´s works this album is for you. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#120657)
Posted Thursday, May 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars This is one of those albums that was originally released on vinyl, disappeared, and somehow managed to escape the nineties rush to reissue everything vinyl onto CD. I really can’t comprehend why somebody hasn’t picked this thing up and remastered it on disk. Everything else in Marco Antônio Araújo’s catalog is available on CD (most of it from PRW), but not this, his only compilation. It was apparently originally sponsored by a Brazilian airline and released on the tiny Strawberry Fields label. Less than two years later its author was dead of a brain aneurism. A big loss to the music world, for sure.

‘Animal Racional’ is an all-instrumental release consisting of just six tracks but covering a whole lot of musical ground. The production is extremely tight, and the sound quality is impeccable. Each instrument can be clearly and distinctly heard – flute, violin, cello, trumpet, trombone, piano and a smattering of percussion, all in tasteful doses and a consistently even tempo. Four of the tracks are from Araújo’s debut release ‘Influências’ and the other two from his sophomore album ‘Quando a Sorte te Solta um Cisne na Noite’ and include the title tracks from both albums.

I’m not sure what this music is supposed to be. It’s not particularly Latin-sounding despite being from Brazil (although Araújo spent his last several years in England), and I don’t know that I would call it folk per se. The arrangements border on smooth jazz at times but the overall feel is not jazz. There are fairly strong hints of classical roots in the song structures and transitions, and I suppose Araújo and the rest of the musicians were mostly classically trained, or if not then they had an amazingly innate sense of musical structure and fluidity.

“Quando a Sorte te Solta um Cisne na Noite” is one of the longer and the most intricate composition with its interplay of somber flat-note violin passages coupled with acoustic guitar and delicate piano. This one alone merits that the entire recording be remastered by somebody to make it available for mass consumption.

And the combination of flute and slide guitar on “Folk Song” is an amazing and rather unusual pairing. Araújo’s creativity is stellar here, with the rhythm being provided by upright bass and snare drums while a sad trumpet bleats in fills alongside an understated piano accompaniment. The choice of instruments both celebrates and transcends folk music. Brilliant work!

The band kicks up their heels a little with some dirty-blues on “Influências”, no doubt a tribute to some of those influences that helped make the man what he became as a musician. Kid of reminds me of those Steve Morse ‘Major Impacts’ albums a little in that respect.

The only track I wouldn’t give five stars to is the closing “Abertura Nº 2” which has a lot of the same great traits as the rest of the tunes, but suffers just a bit from an unnecessary lull in the middle of the song as well as from bland synthesized (or maybe they’re real) animal and rainforest sounds that don’t do much for the music.

In all this is an outstanding album though, and one that can be found still on vinyl for very reasonable prices. But really Musea, if you’re listening – find this thing and put it out on CD. And once they do – everyone buy it, you’ll love it. Four (and a half) stars.


Report this review (#166015)
Posted Monday, April 7, 2008 | Review Permalink

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