Domenico / Domenico Lancellotti

The Good Is a Big God

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Throughout his career, Brazilian singer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Domenico Lancellotti has thrived on collaboration and experimentation, transforming samba, bossa nova, and tropicalia traditions into creative adventures of pop eccentricity. As part of the collective project the +2's, he worked alongside musical peers Moreno Veloso and Alexandre Kassin on a trio of records for the Luaka Bop label where each member acted as bandleader, adding the +2 suffix after his name to front a release. While 2007's Domenico+2: Sincerely Hot, was in a sense a solo effort, he made it official in 2011 with the vibrant and wiley carioca pop of Cine Privê, his proper solo debut. Primarily a drummer, Cine Privê saw Lancellotti asserting his command on a wide variety of instruments with the help of former bandmates Veloso and Kassin as well as newcomers like American producer Money Mark and Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche. Arriving seven years later, his follow-up, The Good Is a Big God, is a similarly adventurous effort that also benefits from a host of distinctive participants, the most apparent of whom is co-producer Sean O'Hagan of U.K. indie pop stalwarts the High Llamas. Interestingly, this collaboration came about when Lancellotti was invited to take part in an artistic occupation of London during the 2012 Olympic Games. The rough guitar sketches he sent to O'Hagan earned beautifully detailed string arrangements, eventually forming the basis of this beautifully crafted collection. As a creative foil to Lancellotti's soothing yet ambitious approach, O'Hagan is a perfect fit, enhancing instrumental tracks like the lilting title cut and the gorgeous "Árvores" with exquisitely rendered string parts that seem both featherlight and absolutely essential. As on previous releases, both Kassin and Veloso also return to help out, the former adding sitar, guitars, and synth to the mysterious "Aracne" and the latter singing and co-writing the breezy highlight "Tudo ao Redor." For his part, Lancellotti remains the captain here, singing, arranging, playing a multitude of instruments, and turning out challenging avant-garde pop on "Asas" and sunny samba rhythms on "Insatiable," and crooning over eerie synths on the magical "Dama da Noite." The Good Is a Big God may be a lofty album rich in layers, details, and rhythms, yet it never flaunts its ambition. Lancellotti is a master of subtlety, gracefully melding his own attributes with the strengths of others to great effect on this excellent sophomore outing.

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