I have been obsessed with Brazillian musician Arrigo Barnabé ever since his song Clara Crocodilo was posted to On the Download a few years ago. The song was like nothing I had ever heard before- from the spastic Portuguese ranting to the atonal horn arrangements and joyous sounding female vocals. Every element of the song was so skewed in such a precise way. Fortunately, I was able to find the entire out-of-print album on Soulseek. It's a masterpiece that doesn't let up- a mix of Rock In Opposition, Zappa, Ornette Coleman, Magma and Brazilian pop.
Since Youtube first made its appearance, I have been searching weekly for Barnabé videos. A few videos finally popped up last year- they were short clips of poor quality that caught Barnabé playing the piano during a reunion concert of his brother's post-punk outfit Patife Band. This was enough for me though...I had built Barnabé up in my head to such monumental proportions that it made my week to find a grainy little video clip of him performing. Over time, more Barnabé videos surfaced- all great little Barnabé morsels...but nothing from the late seventies/early eighties when he would have been performing Clara Crocodilo with a full band.
Until last week- finally! Someone uploaded a video of a 1979 performance of the Clara Crocodilo album. The renditions are a little looser than the album versions, but the energy is maniacle and off kilter. It was everything I imagined in my head during repeated listens of Clara Crocodillo- a festive dance of misfits, demons and pretty ladies with Barnabé as the ringleader. Now if I only knew Portuguese so I knew what the hell he was jabbering on about!
Barnabe has been active since the late seventies and has produced bizarre narrative concept albums, usually writing in a twelve-tone technique. Here is a brief sampling of gems from his catalogue...
Num Antro Sujo from A Saga de Clara Crocodilo
From a live 1999 version of Clara Crodilo which includes more strings than horns and slightly different arrangements.
Tubarões Voadores from Tubarões Voadores
Another highly inventive early record which revolves around the narrative of a flying shark. Some of this material goes into a Residents or Der Plan territory at times.
Dedo de Deus (com vânia bastos) from Suspeito
An odd foray into more late 80s dance and pop territory. Totally bombastic.
Miolo Mole from Gigante Negão
A late 90s return to his earlier sound
There were some efforts into more traditional sounds, although Barnabé's unique sense of melody always shines through. His most recent album, Missa In Memorian Itamar Assumpção, is a clasical composition dedicated to late Brazillian musician Itamar Assumpção, Barnabe's cohort in the Vanguard Paulista movement. Clips of the recording of this piece can be found here. You can hear tracks of the album from Barnabé's Myspace page here. More stuff can be found at his intentionally hard to navigate site here.