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Brazilian Girls - Cobden Club, London
You do get the feeling that this extraordinarily intelligent mish-mash of sounds reeks decidedly of some kind of global clash of worlds - 'Bertold Brecht in Argentina on Acid' per say?
Rare opportunities should never be missed. Especially when it means seeing a great band in a small venue for a one off event.

Tonight's rare opportunity involves one of New York's best-kept secrets, albeit a secret that is now being retold worldwide; a secret of huge proportions - exciting, fresh, innovative...The Brazilian Girls are by no means Brazilian but you do get the feeling that this extraordinarily intelligent mish-mash of sounds reeks decidedly of some kind of global clash of worlds - 'Bertold Brecht in Argentina on Acid' per say?

The band are in fact made up of one of the most delectable and tantalizing female singers to grace the stage for many years - one German/Italian by the name of Sabina Sciubba. Backing her are keyboard wizard Didi Gutman from Buenos Aires, the fiery funk master Jesse Murphy on bass and the tall but unassuming drummer Aaron Johnston.

The Cobden Club can be found in deepest North Kensington, a stone's throw from West London's Notting Hill. A former Victorian Music Hall and a long standing working men's club, the venue has been used over the last decade or so as one of London's premier Bohemian venues. It's a club night tonight and is the second of a new night by Tom Bywater of Lit Music. It's also an opportunity for Universal Music to see one of their new bands in action. Tom heard the band in New York and was determined to get them playing in London. Good on him. At least someone out there has some taste and style.

So you can imagine the scenario, anticipation, a works night out, all mixed with a Saturday night's drink fest. Very few of the audience had seen or even heard of the band. Many of the UK label had not seen them. I really didn't think that they were quite sure what to expect or what they were in for tonight.

There are not many people - let alone lead singers - who can wear the tightest gold jump suit in the world and get away with it. Sabina took the plunge and, well at least there was something stunning to look at if you didn't get the music. With her eyes covered by blindfold she gave off the air of an Egyptian goddess playing a naughty child. Maybe it is a ply of gentle bondage.

Never the less she takes to the stage, moving like a feline, milking every beat with her sensuous body. Her voice has a true Germanic tinge not unlike the wonderful voice of the late Nico. But unlike Nico's almost monolithic voice Sabina has a palate of expression and range. She sings in a multitude of languages making the Brazilian Girls truly global. Her lyrics are descriptive, sexy and well travelled.

Keyboard and computer genius Didi Gutman is awash with a sculpture like headdress of dreads. He stands behind his keyboards like a sci-fi commander in control of his ship. From Fender Rhodes to squelchy synth lines and an array of computer delivered samples he adds colour and exoticness. Drummer Aaron Johnston moves from subtle brushed grooves to dynamic and insane drum n bass rhythms to dubbed out ambient beats. Bassist Jesse Murphy holds the fort with some serious rock solid bass. And when he gets funky he gets seriously funky.

Although the sound did little for the band and at times Sabina's monitors did nothing to help her vocal projection and tuning, it did nothing to quell the great sounds and performance. It took a few songs to tear the punters away from the bar at the back of the gloriously wonderful hall. But soon the whole crowd were wising up to the strains of the world.

The Brazilian Girls fuse strong songs with a certain free form expression and improvisation. 'Lazy Lover' is a gentle but evocative Latin breeze; 'Serenes de la fete' again has a Latin feel but explodes into a heavy rhythmical frenzy. Lilting strings, Hawaiian guitars, an assortment of sampled instruments and exotic sounds ice this luxury cake. 'Don't stop' is a full on dance frenzied experience with some great drums, heavy bass and a real opportunity for Sabina to dance and stir up the crowd. It's a small stage, it's a small venue, barely a few hundred, but it's intimacy makes you feel like you are one of a privileged few. And if that makes you feel good, the music makes you feel even better.

The Brazilian Girls have arrived.
written by on 11/17/2004 12:00:00 AM

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