The HotHouse; Chicago, IL

Every summer when the winds turn
warm and everything becomes a little bit calmer, I always turn to bossa nova
to reflect my mood. Getz/Gilberto ends up on repeat, and Astrud's voice
becomes the soft whisper in my ear, so it was only great timing that I
discovered Cibelle just as summer was starting. And after a summer of
obsession, it was only fitting that Cibelle's visit to Chicago as part of the
World Music Festival should bring with it a respite in the unseasonably cold
weather we had been grunting through in preparation for a long, dark winter.
The walk to the HotHouse was even lit by a summer's sunset, its colorfulness
anticipating the performance to follow after the moon's rise.

Cibelle took to the stage at eleven, an hour after the advertised time ("It's
a Brazilian thing," my tablemate assured me) to excited and curious applause;
this was her first time back in Chicago since the release of newest album
The Shine of Dried Electric Leaves
. The evening started out simply with a
straightforward rendition of Tom Waits's somber "Green Grass," the first track
off of the new album. It was everything you'd expect from a Brazilian band:
plucked nylon string guitar, soft percussion, and a beautiful woman singing
delicately over all of it. The song ended, and the crowd applauded
emphatically — then Cibelle came into her own. Vocal overdubs created cascades
of electronically manipulated sound while small bells clinked and processed
recorders fluttered about and played with the electronic sounds. It was a
beautiful mess.

At a first, quick listen, this could seem to be the perfect definition of the
so-called "freak folk " sound. But the amalgamation of so many genres (bossa
nova, psychedelia, samba, electronic, folk) with so many timbres (beginning
with nylon string guitar and expanding to electronic programming, live
sampling and vocal overdubs that head almost into noise) belies Cibelle's
strongest talent: her cosmopolitanism. It is her ability to meld these genres
and mold such interesting, original, and varied sounds into perfect songs.
Sorry, but this is not your golden-haired, wilderness recluse freak folker;
Sao Paolo is a far cry from Kansas.

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