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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

Forro In The Dark

By Doug Merlino
Published April 27, 2007

Bonfires of São João
Nublu Records

NYC’s Forro In The Dark take forro, the dance music from northeastern Brazil, as a loose template to build upon. After several years of playing to crowds on the Lower East Side and touring with performers including Beck and Tom Waits, the band ditched the accordion—the music’s traditional anchor—for a more urban mix of instruments. “Índios Do Norte,” the first track on this debut disc, kicks things off with an instrumental romp featuring jagged electric guitar, jaunty bass, galloping percussion and dual-attack flute. It’s immediately infectious. The band’s live shows are known for whipping up dancers, and the tracks chug by here, with cameos by David Byrne (on two songs), Bebel Gilberto, and Cibo Matto’s Miho Hatori, who sings “Paraíba” in Japanese. The band manages a difficult task, somehow distilling a very New York vibe through this 100-year-old Brazilian style and coming up with an extremely appealing sound.