Silva - Claridão

Claridão, Silva
SLAP, Brazil
Rating: 80
by Souad Martin-Saoudi

I always wonder what the “meteoric rise” of an artist means, since in my mind, meteors can only fall down to the ground. Strangely, What should be taken as praise from the press can sometime sound like a somber prophecy, suggesting an abrupt end to such a spectacular take off.

A year ago, pretty much like a dazzling meteorite, Lúcio da Silva Souza, a composer and multi-instrumentalist hailing from Vitória (Espírito Santo, Brazil), unexpectedly struck everyone with a 20 min homemade EP. Going under the name Silva, Lúcio partnered up with his brother and lyricist Lucas Silva to put together a collection of 5 beautifully crafted songs. Following the online release, Silva quickly became one of the most acclaimed names of what the Brazilian media calls the new generation of MBP (Música Popular Brasileira) and signed with SLAP (indie label of Som Livre Records). His ascent to notoriety has often been compared to the celestial object and not without reason. It’s unquestionable, Silva’s first effort earn some much-deserved attention in and around Brazil, but far from sputtering or dying, its musical trajectory seems to fit more in a context of continuity.

As proof, the tracks from his self-titled EP were developed and matured into this year’s release, Claridão, leaving the listener unsurprised, but no less impressed by the song crafting. Rather than make conspicuous changes, Silva focused on establishing his own artist aesthetic. The son of a musician family recorded and produced Claridão in his own bedroom, playing basically all instruments (violin, cello, ukulele, piano and guitar both acoustic and electric, organ, vibraphone, glockenspiel, melodica, synth bass, electronic drums). Mixed by Jeremy Park (Youth Lagoon) and mastered by Matt Colton (James Blake’s producer), the album still attests of Silva’s desire to stay true to form.  

“2012”, the lead track on Claridão, puts forth a powerful beat laced with somewhat nostalgic harmonies. Composed during his grandfather final days, the opener elegantly alludes to the doomsday and ultimately nodes to the crazy year the artist just had. On “Falando Sério”, Silva showcases his strong ability to create a hedge of imposing electro-pop sounds – I say hedge and not wall cause this thing is growing. Beginning with a simple piano melody, the track flourishes with every second.  While “Cansei” brings things to a more quieter and introspective place, “12 de Maio” takes on a funfair air and makes it carnaval rhythm, recalling El Guincho’s tropical vibe (Think Palmitos Park). Its on that festive note that Silva nails it down: “a hora passa sempre devagar pra quem vê o bom lado da vida e dança”. The binary form of “Ventania” and the omnipresence of strings on the track reveal Silva’s classical training and influences. Yet the heavy percussion and the enveloping sonic backdrop renders the dance and pop elements, central to his work. “Mas Cedo”, with its “smooth blend of electronic textures” as ably described by fellow writer Giovanni Gillén, is one of the most charming tunes on the album. His voice almost whispering acts as an invitation to bask in the moonlight. I have a definite penchant for Silva’s slower and softer songs as they let his vulnerability shine through.

The title track, built from nervous synth-pop tunes that can be annoying at times, becomes really interesting at 2 minutes when Maria Callas’ compelling voice resonates all around as if it would emanate from a distant chimera. On “Accidental” and “Moletom”, Silva fuses intimate indie pop to heavier electro. Caught between these two uplifting and far from minimalist tunes are  “Posso” and “Imergir”. The slow and dreamy “Posso” makes autotune and harp attractive even captivating.  The pinch harmonics coupled to “Sei que posso dizer o que quero sentir, Quero sentir o que sei que posso dizer” and naive “pa pa pa” causes an inevitable twinge. The love ballad “Imergir” is a tasteful mix of strings, organ and electric guitar. The progressions and layers of that song make it one of my favorites on the LP. The soundscapes created by Silva thrive to convey feelings and emotions regardless of the language barrier. “A Visita”, which begins after a sizable silence like a hidden song, provides a closure of choice. This sweet violin-led ballad punctuated by handclaps and glockenspiel evokes the sound of Beirut with more optimism than saudade. Although every song on Claridão succeeds to unveil Silva’s inventiveness through graceful and heartfelt melodies (and a generous production), the LP is a bit sprawling. Still, nothing seems to tarnish Silva’s initial transient brilliance. His race is clearly towards zenith.