Bebel Gilberto
Sat Nov 24

When I watched Brazilian bossa nova goddess Bebel Gilberto perform songs from her debut CD Tanto Tempo two years ago, my mouth produced sugar. I must explain this phenomenon. The performance of Bebel Gilberto--who is the daughter of the world-famous samba musicians João and Miùcha Gilberto--was so erotic that my body was transformed into a passionate plant. I didn't dance so much as move tropistically towards the stage, basking, as it were, in the sun of her small body, her solar-system sounds, and her band of handsome men.

Bebel Gilberto is not a knockout, nor is she the best singer I have ever heard, nor are her songs the best songs that have been written. In fact, one song at the end of her Tanto Tempo, "Close Your Eyes," is as plastic as anything made by Miami Sound Machine. She is not what her parents were. But she is still great. And it's not the greatness of one particular quality, which eclipses all of her mediocre qualities, but that she (her being and body) is a welcoming void into which so much beauty pours.

Bebel's close association with Suba, Theivery Corporation, Arling and Cameron, and other electronica artists has not so much resulted in great music, but simply infused it, and her persona, with a futuristic feel. Bebel's parents may have been real musicians, but she is a wired android. The opening (and best) song on Tanto Tempo, "Samba da Benção," transports the listener not to the tropical beaches of Rio de Janeiro, but to some sector or vector of the galaxy that her great civilization colonized in 2019. "Samba da Benção" is sung by a hologram for an audience of space-Brazilians, who live in a community of clustered space-structures that look like the ultra-modernist buildings of Brasilia.

The combination of Bebel's impressive upbringing (even her step-mother, Astrud Gilberto, was a famous singer), her sexy band members, the high-tech producers who service her music, and the whole futuristic quality of her personality and sound, generated the erotic energy that turned my mouth into the head of a flower. My saliva was sun-sweet, and if I had spat on the hard floor, the next day a sweeper would have found on that very spot a small pile of white sugar crystals.