After Caetano Veloso broke out with his solo debut, the self-titled 1968 release recognized as the building block for the now infamous Brazilian Tropicalia movement, his friends and musical peers released similar albums, always upping the ante in terms of outrageousness and inventiveness. This release, the second of two self-titled albums released by Gal Costa in 1969, set the high watermark in terms of overall insanity and complete experimental freedom for the entire lot; not Veloso nor Gilberto Gil, Tom Zé, or even the rambunctious Os Mutantes stepped this far out into psychedelia, and even though Costa had hinted at the noisier aspects she was interested in exploring with her previous release, this album must have shocked listeners when it arrived on the shelves. In fact, 35 years of MPB -- or music from anywhere else in the world for that matter -- hasn't heard another sonic assault quite like this. Costa is a ball of contradictions here: overtly wild but in control; sweet and accessible, yet brash; and, at times, almost violent as she screams and moans her way through the album while spindly, whiny guitars mix with soulful bass grooves, bombastic drums, exotic horns, woodwinds, and strings. The sonic textures are taken completely over the top with judicious use of delays, reverbs, and various production techniques new and exciting at the time. When taken all together, the listener may not at first notice the high quality of the songwriting for the unreal, emotional freak-outs laced throughout the performances. Costa's crazy improvisations over Caetano Veloso's tune "The Empty Boat" serve as evidence of this delightful impulsiveness when placed side by side with Veloso's own rather forward-thinking recording of the song, which sounds positively conservative by comparison. All in all, Gal Costa is an indescribable, unpredictable, ambitious, and fun record preserving a slice of time when Brazil was at its most controversial state musically and politically and is a must-have for any psychedelic collection.
AllMusic Review by Gregory McIntosh