Spiritualism, metaphysics, mysticism, inner/outer worlds, futbol and alchemy…all of the play a role during the world cup for a lot of fans…and for Jorge Ben’s “A Tabua de Esmeralda”, released in 1974, the basis for another Brazilian masterpiece. Personally, I have a strong affection for 1974 musically, it still is in my opinion the greatest year for music. It was where nearly everywhere artists were discovering a shared diaspora, I mean just look around for examples: Willie Nelson’s “Phases and Stages”, Robert Wyatt’s “Rock Bottom”, Astor Piazolla’s “Libertango”, Van Morrison’s “Veedon Fleece”, Shuggie Otis’s “Inspiration Information” etc. there was a lot of musical alchemy going around, much more than anytime before. All these artists were trying to use whatever background they had to push into newer, unheard of boundaries. Not to be left behind was Jorge Ben, who driven by his studies in Hermetic alchemy, Afro-Brazilian religions and samba, experimented with his music like never before.
Taking his own inventions like the Tropical Soul of previous albums “Negro e Lindo” and “Ben”, plus the Samba R&B of “Forca Bruta” he started to introduce more progressive arrangements and instruments to match the mystical sound he was imagining in his head. A lot of these tracks were surreal in imagery, thoroughly grounded in using this imagery to present ideas of positive lower class empowerment and personal rebellion against the Brazilian military power. He knew he couldn’t present his displeasure with the political structure, so he turned his struggle as personal, mystical confrontation. That’s the reason he chose Hermetic thought as the overriding theme to display all these emotions he would dive into. It was a brilliant way to prepare his audience used to his laid back vibe, for this much more experimental but still soulful sound. I’d say start with the track called “Errare Humanum Est”, and expand outward from there. Its a shame there are so few joyful monuments, people of any stripe can draw their own kind of inspiration from, this brilliant concoction by Jorge is damn sure one of them.
World Cup Predictions for the Day:
– Holland v. Mexico: Mexico (Winner)
– Costa Rica v. Greece: Costa Rica (Winner)
Here’s a great promo video from Jorge performing “Namorado da Viuva” off this album: