Marcos Valle Contrasts

Bossa nova’s beach boy is back with his third disc in recent years for Brazilian resuscitators Far Out. He’s still got the form that made him such a pop sensation in Brazil from the ’60s through the ’80s. Most of the time, Far Out’s albums are very retro-oriented, tailored for the needs of neo-Brazilian DJs rather than exhibiting the uninhibited, playful songwriting and performances that made MPB fun to listen to in the first place. Not so with this album. Valle has been dismissed as lightweight, but his talents have always been compositional first and they really come through on this release. He’s always dabbled in jazzy progressions, electronics, rock and conceptual production, so it’s no surprise he sounds comfortable amid the well-programmed beats of producer Roc Hunter, which meshes well with the tasteful amount of samba percussion. The beats add some toughness to feathery melodies and his voice is still fluid — guess it helps one’s voice to be a crooner rather than a shouter over a 40-year career. Every track is solid, with many even better than that: the slow groover "Nega Do Balaio” with its filtered keyboards, the title track, which morphs from a sensitive piano into a winning, slightly broken beat groove, and "Parabens" with a great hip-hop drum pattern. This is a winning combination of good songwriting and production, proving once again that Brazil continues to produce some of the world’s grooviest pop music. (Far Out)