Arto Lindsay’s music has always been deserving of Duke Ellington’s ‘beyond category’ classification. For a guitarist who has never learned to play his guitar, he has been making music since the “no wave” 1970s in the noisy band DNA, the 80s in Lounge Lizards, the Golden Palominos, and Lindsay’s pop band Ambitious Lovers. His music has come to full maturation in his solo projects of the 1990s with a string of albums O Corpo Sutil/The Subtle Body (1996), Mundo Civilizado (1997), Noon Chill (1998) and Prize (1999).
The American-born Brazilian-raised Lindsay was immersed in Brazilian culture and music of bossa nova, samba and South American’s adaptations of pop, electronic and hip-hop music. His music, while a bridge between the two Americas, is more about modern Brazil than any attempts at ‘cross-over’ music.
Invoke his second recording for Ani DeFranco’s Righteous Babe Records pulls together a bossa nova and tropicala with an urban hip-hop sensibility. Lindsay’s core band of bassist Melvin Gibbs and guitarist/keyboards Andres Levin is supplemented by differing producers from Rio and New York, Bahia drummers, and the Brazilian urban band Nacao Zumbi.
Lindsay, a frequent collaborator and producer for singer Vinicius Cantuaria, adapts his unadorned style on the simply pure “Delegada” sung in Portuguese over a guitar and clarinet accompaniment and the folk-infectious “Breija-Me.” Lindsay’s voice is a now comfortable wavering reed, a Downtown/Brazilian version of Jimmy Scott. But Lindsay also tears it up here with the booming bass and effects laden production of his guests. His skronk guitar adapts nicely into the mix on the soundscape “In The City That Reads.” There are ventures into pop music here too, but Arto is too cool to be slick. He subverts polished sound with polished noise.
Like Gil Evans’ Sketches Of Spain, Arto Lindsay’s Invoke is as much about New York as it is of Rio.