Universo Umbigo

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The second album from the São Paulo band attempts to reach the hit parades. More pop than their previous album, which granted the band two MTV awards and one APCA prize, this release keeps the unprejudiced mix of styles -- rock, Portuguese vira, flamenco, baião, Northeastern xaxado, exotic scales with Arab touches, maracatu, reggae, and others -- competently performed. The album features performances by Paulinho Moska ("Eu só Quero um Xodó"), Pato Fu ("Rapaz eu Vi"), Mestre Ambrósio ("Boiadeiro"), and Theo Werneck ("Candelara" and "Num Pode Ser"). The album is organized around the idea of nobody being the center of the universe, which is composed by different people, different minds, where both happiness and sadness make part of the picture. The lyrics deal with egocentrism, poverty, loss, hate/love ("Eu tô Voando," a strong hit candidate), the hinterlands of Brazil, linguistics, adventure, and indignation; everything is taken lightly, with no deeper reflection. Trying to get a sound less studied, the production inverted procedures, with all parts being recorded before percussion/drums. The result is a few clashes and a less artificial sound design. The album, suited for a pop audience, is a world release, in spite of Karnak's leader André Abujamra's assertions that it's a pop album. The active search for exotic elements of the entire world, the use of an "idiom" coined by them which makes fun of a stereotyped Russian accent, and the frequent humor make this a fun album to listen to as well as dance to -- but also pushes Universo Umbigo to the verge of cuteness.

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