There aren't many Brazilian musicians who've been as consistently interesting and rewarding in the present century as Lucas Santtana
. Since releasing his debut album, Eletro Ben Dodô
(Natasha), in 2000, he's continually challenged himself as a songwriter and producer, whether exploring dub or working with stripped-down performances that use an acoustic guitar to make every sound, including beats. On his new album, The God Who Devastates Also Cures
(Mais Um Discos), he shifts gears yet again, crafting a sophisticated collection of electronics-tweaked pop, all of it steeped in the indelible sound of his homeland. Santtana sings with the hushed, sensual delivery of bossa nova even when his songs have little relation to that iconic form. Here he's surrounded himself with a remarkable cast of players, and his dense arrangements are routinely marked by exquisite, fleeting instrumental details, whether well-deployed string swells, programmed beat accents, or guest harmonies. Today's beautiful 12 O'Clock Track
, "Músico," a song written by the great Tom Zé
, is a case in point, featuring guest singing by Céu
and groovy MPC beats by Curumin. It was hard to decide what to pick here, as the entire album is great, and with every listen I've become more absorbed by Santtana's latest accomplishment.