01 Fábula (Rodolfo Stroeter/Lelo Nazario) – 06:24
02 3 Segredos (Lelo Nazario/Zé Eduardo Nazario) – 08:48
03 Olho d’Água (Marlui Miranda) – 03:00
04 Babel (Rodolfo Stroeter/Lelo Nazario) – 05:47
05 Uluri (Marlui Miranda) – 03:38
06 Cordilheira (Nenê) – 08:20
07 Tocaia (Z. E. Nazario, Stroeter, Nazario, Miranda, Cardoso) – 02:13
08 Festa na Rua (Rodolfo Stroeter/Lelo Nazario) – 05:59
Recorded in December, 1993, at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio, Babel was produced shortly after the group’s tour of Europe during the preceding month. “By the time we arrived in Norway, the album’s repertory had been pretty extensively tried and tested. We did two concerts before the record for a festival at the Cosmopolite in Oslo”, Rodolfo Stroeter recalls. “Because we were already familiar with the studio, this album was recorded even more quickly than Metrópolis Tropical. Babel is practically all live; very little of it was patched up or made up in the studio”.
Now more fully meshed with the group, vocalist/instrumentalist Marlui Miranda’s participation increased markedly in this new effort. “Babel is a studio album made from material that left less room for improvisation, that was more structured, more previously arranged. With Marlui, who introduced indigenous music to Pau Brasil, this recording featured an even greater mix of different idioms. It really did become a babel of sorts”, remarks keyboard player Lelo Nazario.
“By the time we laid those tracks, the new line-up had matured”, Stroeter states. “Marlui brought a new interest to Pau Brasil – one that we didn’t really have at the time of Lá Vem a Tribo, when we were playing with a typical line-up of Brazilian jazz musicians”. He had, by then, consolidated his partnership with Nazario on the tracks ‘Fábula’, ‘Babel’ and ‘Festa na Rua’. “Marlui is a highly intuitive musician. I’ve produced a lot of singers but she is the most amazing. The ideas she comes up with are so unusual even she can’t explain where they came from”.
Author of the compositions ‘Olho d’Água’, ‘Uluri’ and the collective piece ‘Tocaia’, as well as the arrangement for ‘Kã Kã’ (the music of the Urubu-Kaapor indians), Marlui underscores the importance of Pau Brasil’s method of collective creation. The singer/songwriter gives credit to “everyone who participated in those arrangements, because that’s how the group worked on them: together. I provided a basic outline for some things and, of course, they gave it their personal touch, and we arrived at a conclusion”.
In ‘Três Segredos’, a composition he co-wrote with his brother (drummer Zé Eduardo), Lelo Nazario made use of a resource borrowed from contemporary music which he had already previously employed during the time he was a member of Grupo Um. “The music sounds as if it were suspended in space, because you can’t define its tempo”, the keyboardist remarks, explaining how this effect was achieved. “You compose without using any sort of defined formula for time – notation becomes proportionate, so to speak. After the group plays it long enough, the tempo comes naturally to everyone. Yet if you try to write the score, it’ll never work out the same way”.
The delay in the Babel CD’s release – which didn’t take place until 1995 – is justified by Stroeter, who describes producing an album in those days as “artisanal” work. “There were no cultural incentive laws or anything like them in those days. It took time to come up with financing for the various stages of production for each record”, he justifies. On the other hand, Babel had already been simultaneously released in Europe by ACT and, in the U.S., by Blue Jackel.
“Because Ihu – Todos os Sons, a Marlui Miranda album I also produced, was already in circulation abroad, where it found a very interesting niche, I managed to negotiate the Pau Brasil catalogue, Babel included. This was a very cool thing for us as a group because – in terms of tours – it opened doors for us in the States as well as in Europe. So much so that Babel was pre-nominated for a North American Grammy award”, observes the producer and bass player.
While he was well aware that concentrating on his activities as a producer (as of 1994) contributed to cutting back on the group’s career, Stroeter regrets the shift in focus. “Although Babel is a very mature record, I think the group had great potential to do other things. I’m only sorry that Pau Brasil didn’t have the opportunity to make two or three more discs that might have determined the end of that particular line-up’s creative cycle. That was a shame”.