Ô Blésq Blom

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Regrouping from the decidedly up-and-down Jesus Não Tem Dentes album, Titãs once again found their eclectic stride on album number five, the brilliantly executed but nonsensically titled Ô Blésq Blom. Like the husband-and-wife team, Mauro and Quitéria (he, a former merchant sailor who unwittingly spoke a dozens of languages at once, and she, his hand-clapping, harmonizing partner), who were sampled for both the intro and first song, "Miséria," Ô Blésq Blom often seems to come from another planet. At once simplified and sophisticated, it represents the apex of Titãs' art rock ambitions -- a marriage of extremes that is perfectly exemplified in the next two songs: "Racio Símio" features a humorously haphazard listing of popular wisdom; while "O Camelo e o Dromedário" enters into a philosophical discussion about the pros and cons of camels with one or two humps! Clearly, here's a band capable of going from "goo-goo" to Dada in a matter of minutes! And it doesn't end there, as Titãs' vocalist-by-committee approach (five of the eight musicians regularly took turns as frontmen) continually yields thrilling and idiosyncratic results. Sung by the honey-voiced Branco Mello, leadoff single "Flores" (winner of MTV's Best International Video award that year) virtually jumps off the speakers; Nando Reis' mathematical delivery brings stark economy to "Faculdade;" the heavily programmed drumming of "Deus e o Diabo" benefits from Paulo Miklos and Sérgio Britto's emotional directness; and the band's resident poet, Arnaldo Antunes, is also in fine form, both when shouting his way through the urgently paranoid "Medo," or knowingly crooning the contemplative "O Pulso." Elements of rock, MPB, new wave, funk, and reggae permeate all of the above in often surprising combinations, and along with these songwriters' impeccable touch for timing lyrics into rhyme and meter, it all makes for a colorful palette of sound representative of Ô Blésq Blom's cover art.

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