Flora Purim

Speed of Light

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A brilliant cross between Flora Purim's '70s work with Chick Corea & Return to Forever (some of the only fusion albums that don't sound terribly dated decades later) and mid-'90s chill-out music, 1995's Speed of Light is one of the Brazilian-born singer's finest albums. Opening with the meditative instrumental "A Secret From the Sea," Speed of Light is a seamless blend of 12 smoothly danceable tracks combining Brazilian jazz; spacious, fusion-based arrangements heavy on the percussion and synthesizers; and cool, contemporary beats and loops. The combination works effortlessly, since so much acid jazz and ambient house music already cribs from '60s bossa nova and '70s fusion. Throughout it all, Purim's still-astonishing voice remains at center stage, whether murmuring softly on the slinky "Portal da Cor" or trilling wordlessly on the hypnotic "The Goddess of Thunder." Diana Moreira (daughter of Purim and percussionist Airto Moreira, her regular producer and collaborator) takes on an expanded writing and performing role, performing and arranging the complex overdubbed backing vocals that give the largely electronic songs a more intimate, human feel. Speed of Light is essential listening for both Brazilian jazz and chill-out fans.

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