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Published: 2008/04/24
by Matt Brockett

Banquet of the Spirits – Cyro Baptista


If Cyro Baptista’s Banquet of the Spirits does nothing more for you than to kindle some faint interest in the fascinating concept of Anthropofagia, that alone would be more than worth the purchase price. Look it up, it’s fucking awesome. But even if you don’t like doing a little reading in order to more deeply appreciate your music, this album is still very well worth your hard earned music purchasing dollars. There’s more than enough happening here to grab a hold of even the most casual of adventurous music listeners. Banquet of the Spirits is world music in the most literal sense of the phrasetraveling from continent to continent in a single song and creating intriguing new lands in the process.

The opening “Tutuboli” beautifully contrasts ancient rhythms and instruments with outer space vocals. The cool, drippy bassline of “Bird Boy” picks up about halfway through as the band churns out a bouncy sort of mutated two-tone ska beat, setting up some wickedly infectious B3 work from Brian Marsella.

On “Macuna,” free jazz gives way to what can only be called “vocal percussion,” followed by some insane surf music. But why stop there, when we’ve got way more ground to cover? Next comes some straight up jazz with a surplus of demonic saxophone shrieks from the inimitable John Zorn. Just shy of the four minute mark the band absolutely explodes into an incredibly sinister and enormous prog-metal freakout and Zorn simply tears you a new one with his sax work. And no prog-metal explosion would be complete without degenerating into the sounds of French being spoken and a stereo-sound chorus of kissy noises. That’s “Macuna.”

The distinctive sounds of the mbira and the berimbaus are the backbone of the hypnotic “Mumakata,” which eventually makes its way towards some Middle Eastern flavors too. The jazzy, almost avant-garde “Nana & Tom” is followed by the somber yet beautiful “Tupinamb” and then the sexy and mysterious “Argan” with vocalist Hassan Ben Jaffar. On “Typing with Oswald de Andrade,” Baptista and company pay tribute to the author of The Anthropophagite Manifesto (1928), with their unique interpretation of a typewriter’s signature rhythms. The short “Lamento Mourisco” segues perfectly into the gorgeous and relaxing “Malinye.”

The finale, “Anthropofagia” is an epic speech by Cyro on the topic of Anthropofagia, “the only law of the universe.” Again, look it up. It is set to music, and builds to an incredible epic peak, with Brian Marsella’s B3 and piano skills stealing the show yet again.

If you like mind-bogglingly precise rhythms and instrumental tightness interspersed with free jazz freakouts, then Banquet of the Spirits is for you. Honestly, how can you not be intrigued by an album that lists musical instruments like “20 feet of chains,” “waterphone” and “donkey jaw” in the liner notes?

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