Longtime friends and collaborators Dino Almeida and Pedro Bonifrate knew each other from the fringes of Brazil's music scene, where they made reaching experimental rock sounds with their respective bands Boogarins and Supercordas. Over a series of years, the two friends worked on a new musical project that eventually was named Guaxe after a bird native to the Atlantic forests whose call is naturally surreal. With their self-titled debut, Bonifrate and Almeida's musical connection and friendship emanates through these wild yet warm sounds of homespun psychedelia. The album's seven songs each take a slightly different approach to Guaxe's overall vision. The first sound we hear is a backwards loop of an acoustic 12-string guitar figure, setting a wobbly pace on "Desafio Do Guaxe" for the band to stack layers of vocals, drums (both sampled and played), and washed-out guitars and electronics on top of. The arrangement is brimming over with sounds, but the song's hypnotic one-chord groove gives it a minimal feeling, not unlike early sounds from Animal Collective and Panda Bear. This approach quickly gives way to the more traditionally modeled rock of "Pupilas," a sweet power-pop song drenched in fuzzy guitar leads, moments of backwards drums, and squiggles of hyperactive synthesizer. "Onda" is a more indie rock-minded track, with a distant melody, laid-back meter, and some of the album's most mind-warping production. Guaxe move deftly between their more rocking moments and the subdued orchestral folk that makes up the album's back end on glimmering, vulnerable tracks like "Avesso." They manage to jump around between various daydreams without ever disrupting the overall flow, gently delivering a set of exciting songs that has a uniform feel of compassion and positivity.
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas