Forro In The Dark Bonfires Of Sao Joao

Thanks to a million buskers, exotica records, spiritual jazz musings and advertisements for vacation getaways, there is no greater cliché in tropical music than wooden flute. Your tolerance of Forro In the Dark will be directly proportionate to how much you accept or reject this instrument. Forro In the Dark are largely an instrumental band playing with the rhythms of North Eastern Brazil, and on this record they’re as aggressive as they can be, with said flute the lead instrument in focussing the syncopation of drums and metal. The other Nor’-eastern ingredient in this music is the sensibility of New York — angular guitars and wanton genre promiscuity with reggae and country abound. This cultural admixture is not unheard of in this part of Brazil but here there is a deliberate edge to the mixology that recalls so many of the musical mixing pots in NYC. The vocals on a few tracks are yet another acquired taste, with two songs featuring the unmistakable David Byrne, and one caressed by the sexy hush of Bebel Gilberto. The Gilberto track works better, as it’s a successfully languid workout. Despite the band’s reputation for kicking it live, if one compares Bonfires Of Sao Joao to last year’s somewhat more anarchic Trafico by Think Of One, which mines similar sources, Forro In The Dark’s disc comes off as hesitant. Nevertheless, on repeat listens, this record reveals its charms more carefully as a songwriter record rather than a collection of rave-ups. (Nublu)