Tom Zé

Ano 94

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Tom Zé may be one of the most overlooked progressive artists in the Brazilian Tropicalia scene. Thanks must be given to David Byrne of Talking Heads fame, who was instrumental in the rediscovery of the postmodern troubadour. His songs of satire and metaphorical twists were brought to a wider audience in the 1990s by way of a reissue series of his older work and a string of new albums on Byrne's Luaka Bop label. His early- to mid-'70s work is outstanding and nothing short of essential for fanatics of Tropicalia and bossa nova. 's highly experimental pop work took unusual routes over the decade, resulting in quirky experiments such as creating music with blenders, floor polishers, radios, typewriters, and "prepared" acoustic guitars. Through this outsider existence as an experimenter, Tom Zé's development resulted in one of the most outstanding repertoires in avant-pop, created in isolation, far from the Brazilian mainstream pop world. This 1994 recording, which appeared on CD in 1997, is not the best place to start with his idiosyncratic sound. That isn't to say that the album isn't great, but in comparison to some of the astonishing work he produced after this point, it fares a little weaker in overall realization of ideas. Newcomers are recommended to look to the David Byrne-produced anthology Brasil Classics for an introduction into the world of Tom Zé. Those with a taste for Caetano Veloso, Jorge Ben, and Arto Lindsay brace yourselves -- Tom Zé's discography, dating from his early-'60s folk-pop through to the futuristic bossa nova of his work with Tortoise, is all utterly essential.