Da Cruz

Sistema Subversiva

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Switzerland-based producer Ane H. met São Paolo expatriate Mariana Da Cruz when he heard her singing bossa nova in an Irish pub. Together with drummer Pit Lee, they now make music that Ane H. characterizes as "irrational," which is about as good a descriptor as any. On the group's third album, they create a sound that is big, messy, extremely funky, and sometimes just a bit too discursive. Case in point: "Curumin," which embroiders a sort of brain-bludgeoning jazz fusion with a lacy outer layer of glitchy funk -- a brilliant recipe, but the track goes on for way too long. "Zero a Zero" similarly takes darkly urgent and highly effective raw material and stretches it just a bit too thin. But for all of their professed "irrationality," when the members of Da Cruz get the balance right the results are scarily perfect: "Tschu Tschu" is extra funky; "Chega" is built on a wonderfully off-kilter stutter-step beat that imbues the whole track with a wonderfully off-balance charm; their take on the Grace Jones classic "Warm Leatherette" brings a nearly punky assertiveness to the original arrangement, while the vocals invest the song's original sprechstimme with a new and exotic flavor. The album's one other disappointment -- the reggae-flavored but heavy and plodding "Papo De," is redeemed at the end of the program by a stripped-down and lifted-up remix. Ultimately, Sistema Subversiva makes all the right kinds of mistakes -- they're errors of passion and experimentation, and the album is a solid winner overall.

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