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World Music CD Reviews Electronica

MONICA FREIRE

By Tom Jackson
Published June 27, 2006

Bahiatronica
Audiogram

Montreal-based Freire is from a new generation of Brazilian singer songwriters. With Guy Dubuc’s fluttering electronica creating shimmering, sophisticated backgrounds for her soft and breathy vocals, this disc crackles with slinky, bittersweet melodies, and Freire has created a sneakily psychedelic pop sound that sidesteps the saccharine while soundtracking your own quiet carnival. Sure, Brazilian purists may balk at the samples and the electronic whooshes, but there’s no doubt the human voice wins out, and there’s something charmingly understated about Bahiatronica, from the delicate positioning of the timbales in the mix on “O Retirante” to the way the vocoder barely touches the vocal on “Yao.” The cover of Jobim and Moustaki’s “Les Eaux de Mars” is spirited, with a kind of gentle rap on the chorus, but it’s the sweetly melodic self-penned tracks that are the revelation, typified by “Serra Leoa” and its sense of bashful celebration. From Bahia to Montreal via Tokyo, Freire has already performed round the world, but on the strength of this release she deserves to get under the skin of the widest possible audience.