Egberto Gismonti: Amazonia (CARMO/9)

Amazonia CD

Egberto Gismonti

Egberto Gismonti 12-string guitar, acoustic guitar, Indian organ, conductor
Orquestra Transarmônica D’Alma D’Omrac
Bianca Gismonti voice
Alexandre Gismonti laughter, voice
Jaques Morelenbaum cello
Nando Carneiro acoustic guitar
Edu Mello e Souza synthesizer
Zeca Assumpção bass
Ruth Gismonti Amim voice
Recorded, mixed, and edited (digitally) at Porão Studio, except “Sertão/Forrobodó” (recorded like at Fabrik, Hamburg, 1990)
Artistic production: Carmo Produções Artísticas Ltda
Production assistant: Dulce Bressane
Release date: June 1, 1993

Here we have Egberto Gismonti’s original soundtrack for the film Amazonia: Voices from the Rainforest. The 1991 film, directed by Monti Aguirre and Glenn Switkes, gives a voice to indigenous peoples of the Amazon. Gismonti, as someone who knows the rainforest intimately and understands the film’s cause, was an organic choice to translate that broken silence into music. Originally released in 1991 on EMI, this CARMO reissue stands as a testament to Gismonti’s invention as a composer and gives credence to the maturation of his electronic experiments.

From tracks such as “Dois Curumins na Floresta,” we can hear that his integration of electronic and acoustic instruments is fuller, richer than before. Whether in “O Senor dos Caminhos,” a melding of synth flutes and strings dedicated to environmentalist Ailton Krenak, or “Forró na Beira da Mata,” which folds in the liquid metal of 12-string guitar, the feeling is of connective tissue between worlds: technology and nature, the “civilized” and the “untouched.” Even the most overtly synthesized passages only serve to emphasize the natural settings of the filmmakers’ interest. And while some (e.g., “Turma do Mercado” and “Fuga & Destruição”) are less successful without their images, the album works far better as a whole than Trem Caipira and yields such beauties as the blended chords of “Floresta (Amazônia).”

That said, as a standalone experience the highlights for me are overtly instrumental. The folksong “Sertão,” in Gismonti’s adaptation, glows under the bow of cellist Jaques Morelenbaum, who lends further beauty to “Ao Redor da Fogueira” alongside the lithe bassing of Zeca Assumpção and Gismonti’s own guitar. Both take in warmth from the heart as solar center, turning empathy into orbiting planets. Overseeing them all is “Ruth.” Written by Gismonti’s grandfather Antonio and sung by his mother (for whom it is named), it is the ultimate expression of heritage. Let us never forget where we come from, she seems to say, to remind ourselves of how little we have traveled.

Original vinyl cover:

Amazonia VINYL

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s