The opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics included a tribute to the Tropicália movement, and rightly so, for the ideas of “cultural cannibalism” and experimental fusion promoted by Gilberto Gil and his colleagues still play a major part in new Brazilian music. Graveola are from the inland city of Belo Horizonte, where they pioneered a style that once involved toy instruments and lyrics about social issues. The latter are still part of the mix, as shown by such new political songs as Indio Maracanã, but their current style combines angry and surreal lyrics in an easygoing, melodic style that features bursts of pop, jazz and rock.
From the first few notes of Camaleão Borboleta, it’s tempting to compare Graveola to decades’ worth of its countrymen. On opening track “Maquinário”, singer Luiz Gabriel-Lopes sounds almost identical to a young Caetano Veloso, and the Tropicália spirit thrives throughout the album as Graveola experiments with psychedelia and West African-inspired rhythms. Echoes of more esoteric artists like Os Mutantes and Tom Zé touch each song, as well, and penultimate track “Back in Bahia” directly references Gilberto Gil’s post-exile song of the same name.