Album Review

Otto, 'Certa Manha Acordei de Sonhos Intranquilos'

September 7, 2009

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Otto Certa Manha Acordei de Sonhos Intranquilos

There’s a most delicious sadness to the new record from Brazil’s Otto, a veteran singer from Recife’s ultra-fertile mangue-beat scene whose style could be called energetically moody. The title paraphrases the opening lines of Kafka’s “Metamorphosis,’’ and the album delivers on the implied promise of an emotional journey: It arcs from an almost grandiose lamentation of cruelty and loss (“Crua’’) to an end-state of quiet resolution (“Agora Sim’’). Along the way, as Otto travels to Bahia to invoke the spirits (“Janaina’’) and thrashes out a cathartic rock anthem (“6 Minutos’’), you don’t need to understand the Portuguese lyrics to appreciate that he is working out demons. In fact, Otto, thoughtful and sensitive to begin with, is recovering from a recent divorce from actress Alessandra Negrini, his wife of seven years, and “Certa manhã . . .,’’ which also includes a song about their daughter, doesn’t conceal its therapeutic intent. But just as welcome, it signals the continued vitality of the Recife scene - where Otto emerged in iconic 1990s bands Naçao Zumbi and Mundo Livre S/A - with its enchanted blend of regional rhythms, rock, and electronica influences. A crack band supports, with fine percussion and a sweet, almost Congolese guitar; guest spots from Céu and Julieta Venegas augment the mix. (Out now) SIDDHARTHA MITTER