Egberto Gismonti piano, synthesizers (Oberheim Ob-xa, Korg Poly-800, Korg Ex800, Casio Cz-101, Yamaha Dx7, Roland Sh-101, Arp Odyssey 2), electronics (Oberheim Dsx Sequencer, Roland Msq-700 Sequencer, Roland Tr-808 Rhythm Computer, Korg Ddm 220 Rhythm Computer, Garfield Electronics Mini Doc Synthesizer Synchronizer), vocoder (Roland Svc 350)
Nivaldo Ornelas soprano saxophone
Bernard Wistraete flutes
Jaques Morelenbaum cello
Pita Filmena whistling
Alexandre do Bico flautinha do chaplin
Ge Mima xylophone
Bibi Roca drums
Orquestra Transarmônica D’Alma D’Omrac
Otineb Zerauj, Oriam Seravat direction
Recorded September 1985 by Egberto Gismonti at Porão Studio and Jorge Teixeira (piano) at Sala Cecília Meireles
Recording supervisor: Dulce Bressane
Engineer: Bira Dantas
Mixed by Egberto Gismonti and Jorge Teixeira
Produced for Carmo Produções Artísticas Ltda
Production assistant: Dulce Bressane
Release date: January 1, 1992
Trem Caipira is a deep dig into the Egberto Gismonti archive. Originally released in 1985 on EMI and reissued as the sixth CARMO release in 1992, it boasts Gismonti’s unusual arrangements of music by Heitor Villa-Lobos. And yet, despite being approved by the composer’s widow, Mindinha, and the participation of Orquestra Transarmônica D’Alma D’Omrac (the names of whose members are, oddly enough, spelled backwards on the original LP), the sounds are almost entirely produced by a bank of synthesizers (Oberheim Ob-xa, Korg Poly-800, Korg Ex800, Casio Cz-101, Yamaha Dx7, Roland Sh-101, Arp Odyssey 2), electronics (Oberheim Dsx Sequencer, Roland Msq-700 Sequencer, Roland Tr-808 Rhythm Computer, Korg Ddm 220 Rhythm Computer, Garfield Electronics Mini Doc Synthesizer Synchronizer), and vocoder (Roland Svc 350).
The results leave much to be desired. Even the participation of cellist Jaques Morelenbaum in “Trenzinho do Caipira” does nothing to disguise the fact that Gismonti’s arsenal has gone threadbare with age. But if some tracks manage to eke by, then “Dansa” (from Bachiana No. 4) feels stuck in time and unable to escape from its own impulses. How wonderful to hear Gismonti’s acoustic piano in “Bachiana No. 5,” which anchors relatively tasteful qualities! But then the flaccid horns and drum machine of “Desejo” take over, and all is once again lost. Like the meager attempts of “Pobre Cega” to add percussion and flute, it meanders into non-action.
Having said all that, a few tracks work bizarrely well. These include “Cantiga” (from Bachiana No. 4) for its lively rhythms, chord changes, and a certain consistency of sound (not to mention the soprano saxophone of Nivaldo Ornelas) and “Preludio” (from Bachiana No. 4) for its harpsichord-like bite. The same cannot be said for “Canção de Carreiro,” which despite a melodic beauty (entirely to Villa-Lobos’s credit) feels like the opening credits to a subpar TV movie.
A fun hypothesis, but on the whole not worthy of becoming a theory. It will, however, have its place in the completist’s collection.