by Carlos Reyes
Identifying what’s explicit vs. what’s implicit should be a responsibility of anyone daring to mingle with a real league of audiophiles. When a text is assumed rather than added to the investment, the music is often reduced to an easy listening experience. Some acts make the interaction simple; others make you sweat for it. Brazilian newcomers Iconili belong to that last group, particularly as their debut EP Tupi Novo Mundo is so much of a seduction and very little of an affair.
Iconili has a total of 11 members on its roster, and so it’s no wonder its composition brings an abrasive pool of sounds (most notably Brazilian roots, jazz, and dusty rock and roll), that add up to a “tropical and psychedlic sound experience.” It’s hard not to attach some exoticism to the premise, but. luckily, the ensemble is far too busy at the mass-assembly of instruments to focus on tourism. The EP’s opening number, “O Rei de Tupunga,” displays the journey of the afrobeat as it merges into tropicalia. The track’s venture is sinister but has a familiar warmth to it–we are essentially confronted with the sound of every cop/crime TV show in syndication Eventually, this (implicit) recognition of the text becomes a pattern that’s not always savaged by nostalgia.
You can denounce Iconili for not shooting for innovation, but you can’t hide the fact the music is gleeful and flawlessly orchestrated. Particularly in tracks like “Solar” and “Areia,” where the band interplays with restraint and exhibition. Tupi Novo Mundo sounds robust and is filled with polished noise, but there’s not a lot of actual movement in the long run. Like recently acclaimed albums by Chica Libre and Onda Tropica, this is a perfectly produced and perfectly wrapped album that’s flawed only by fixity. Iconili doesn’t make its flaws obvious though; a sense of ambiguity seems to follow them at every turn, and that’s a signifier of potentially better things to come.