By Rebecca Bulnes
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"I have a hard time with modern technology," Brazilian icon Gilberto Gil says, describing the theme of his latest CD, Banda Larga Cordel. "I admit that I use it with moderation, but I am nevertheless fascinated by it." This awe was the inspiration for his first disc of original material in four years, whose title translates as Broadband Pamphlet. "As I wrote the songs, I noticed that there was a clear influence from the cordel poetry of the northeast (which is printed in pamphlets and read on city streets), but there was also a certain link with the concept of the connectivity we have these days."
Among the highlights on Banda Larga Cordel is "Não Tenho Medo da Morte" ("I Do Not Fear Death"), a ballad that poetically reflects on death and its inevitability, sung from the point of view of a 65-year-old man who realizes there are fewer days ahead than behind. On the flip side is the upbeat "Samba de Los Angeles," a number that has little to do with Southern California but has a catchy rhythm that ensnares the listener from the get-go.
"The songs came to me during hotel stays," Gil says. "I had gone through a four-year songwriting hiatus due to my work with the government [serving since 2003 as minister of culture for the current Brazilian administration], and after the tunes came together, I took advantage of weekends to go into the studio."
One of the first Brazilian artists to embrace the Internet in the mid-Nineties, Gil has made his tunes available online, often releasing alternate takes of his music and allowing fans to record entire concerts for personal use. Such is the case during this tour, which will include a six-piece band featuring daughter Preta Gil on vocals and son Bem Gil on guitar.
Gil says audiences can expect an "intense, motivated, and happy show" that will include new material in addition to the older hits. If the band has half the energy he delivered on the CD, concertgoers are in for a treat.