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Cibelle - The Shine of Dried Electric Leaves

Released on Six Degrees Records, 5/2/06

"Phoenix", the arrestingly perfect single off Cibelle's upcoming release The Shine of Dried Electric Leaves, is by itself worth the price of admission. Like its titular mythical bird, the ballad gathers and rises into a crescendo from minimalist electronic blips to haunting cello and distorted electric guitar lines that recall the best of Smashing Pumpkins. The moments of sheer bliss created as Cibelle's smoky voice rises above the layers to deliver her sensual lyrics of re-birth represent the best this rising international star has to offer.

Fortunately there's very little drop off from the peak here. Each of the 14 tracks on the Sao Paulo-born singer's second release are uniquely structured and feature a nuanced blend of electronics and wildly inventive instrumentation (backwards guitars, harps, music boxes, spoons and sugarcubes!) yet there's a common flavor present in the Brazilian chanteuse's voice, always gliding beautifully and lightly on top of the soundscape.

With The Shine of Dried Electric Leaves, Cibelle (pronounced see-BELL-ee) is poised to join the growing list of contemporary artists internationally renowned for fusing Brazilian stylings with modern electronica. Her career took off when she sang on multiple tracks for Suba's legendary Sao Paulo Confessions and, on her first two records, the London-based singer has fluently conjoined the traditional bossa nova and sambatronica of that breakthrough with the indie freak folk camp of artists like countryman Seu Jorge (who duets with her here on the terrific "Arrete La Menina").

Speaking of psychedelic folk, local star Devendra Banhart also appears on the album in a splendid duet covering Caetano Veloso's "London London". Banhart sounds terrific his voice a perfect complement to Cibelle's lovely English singing. More than half the songs on the album are in English, in fact but at no point does Shine lose the soul, flavor or musical ingenuity of one of modern Brazil's best new musicians.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars