Enigma is the first studio album by the space age, glass-harp powered, tropicalia quartet Os Barbapapas. Understandably, those adjectives could invoke images of kitschiness in one’s mind; that concept is smashed by the ice cold shot of Brazilian jazz riffing in the album’s opener and first single, “Se Liga Na Sequência”.
Os Barbapapas trapeze the vast richness of Brazilian/South American music heritage and beyond, as a collective with members who have variously travelled to Morocco to master Gnawa; played in circuses, or were born in the heartland of samba – these experiences and much more inform the complex yet breezy instrumentals of Enigma.
It’s a joy to pick through the notable influences that resound over Enigma. Ethiopian jazz bursts from “Caminho para Itiwawa”, backed by an Afro-Latin swing, fostered by drummer Barbara Mucciollo. There’s tonalities from North African artists such as Omar Khorshidor West African artists such as Tinriwen and Ali Farka Touré, as well as rhythmic influence from Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian music. The dynamite track “(L)Atitude(S)” contains the explorative excitement of Brazilian 60s luminaries like Pedro Santos, however none are as special as layered percussion of “Gaba Gaba”, connected to the very specific rhythms of northeast Brazil. It’s evident from listening to Enigma that Os Barbapapas are an exceptional live band. They have their sights set on Europe soon, with the Glass Harp packed away safely. Until then please enjoy this electrifying album of their work so far, understanding: this is an extremely exciting project, still in its auspicious infant years.