Cada Cabeça É Um Mundo

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Like Olodum, Timbalada is a bloco Afro -- a large percussion ensemble that grew out of a reawakened recognition and celebration of Brazil's African roots. Guided by Carlinhos Brown, Brazil's most celebrated and successful young songwriter, Timbalada's first CD showed how much actual pop music can come from just drums and voices and Cada Cabeça É Um Mundo shows how much more actual pop music Timbalada can create with a few extra instruments. Not a full band -- just an acoustic guitar or organ here, a rock guitar or bassline there, a chorus blast of horns, whatever adds the right extra touch to each song. Brown and his cast of 100 (literally) have an innate sense of a song's minimal needs and the instinctive ability to add what's needed around the small drums, which fire melodic fusillades in response to the vocals, and bigger drums, which keep the bass pulse pumping. "Namoro a Dois" has an actual ballad feel, with piano and organ amidst the light, melodic touch of the drums, and "Papá Papet" merges massed voices with accordion and some very sparingly used reggae horns. "Camisinha" rocks seriously with only strategically applied guitar chords and organ splurges and a female vocalist (probably Patricia Gomes) takes the lead on a few tracks, like the romping dance invitation "Camafeu" and "Giro O Mundo." The main male lead singer (probably Ninha Brito) is very effective, working a call-and-response style with massed backing vocals à la the rhythm and dynamics shifts in "Cadê O Timbau?" The closing "Convênio Com Cristo" opens with guitar and berimbau and virtually no drums, and those kind of unexpected moves show how Timbalada keeps your attention riveted far better than you might imagine on Cada Cabeça É Um Mundo.

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