Arnaldo Baptista – Loki? (1974)

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1 Será que eu vou virar bolor?
2 Uma pessoa só (Mutantes)
3 Não estou nem aí
4 Vou me afundar na lingerie
5 Honky tonky (Patrulha do Espaço)
6 Cê tá pensando que eu sou loki?
7 Desculpe
8 Navegar de novo
9 Te amo podes crer
10 É fácil

All songs by Arnaldo Baptista except “Uma pessoa só” by Mutantes.

Recording in 16-tracks at Eldorado Studio (SP)
Produced by: Menescal/Mazola
Audio technician: Marcus Vinicius
Album cover by Aldo Luis, photo by Leila

Featuring: Dinho, Liminha, Rogério Duprat, Rita Lee, Rafa, and Arnaldo Baptista

The world of popular music is full of mythic figures whose eccentric reputations unfairly obscure and overshadow their actual contributions. Arnaldo Baptista is one such figure. In my younger days when I had just discovered them and was gripped by Os Mutantes “fever” (Mutant Mania?), I sought out this record with high expectations, knowing only that it was Arnaldo’s “nervous breakdown album” after which he took a long, um, “rest” and a break from the public eye. I admit I was slightly put off by the fugly album jacket design but I kept hope alive.

I brought it home full of eagerness, put it on the stereo expecting “The Madcap Laughs” and instead I got “The Madman Across the Water.” This is not a slam or a dis, as I will defend early Elton John and challenge anyone who wants to argue about it to a duel. Not a duel to the death with pistols or sabres, mind you, but maybe with a fencing foil. But still, Sir Elton doesn’t even rank in the realm of ‘loony’ tortured souls. So I was rather shocked to find myself listening to a subdued album of piano-driven rock music (hell, there isn’t any guitar on the whole record until the very end), rather than the Brazilian equivalent of “Oar,” “Easter Everywhere” or the aforementioned “Madcap.” What “Loki?” offers us is a piece of reflective pop music, a fragmented narrative of a life in the midst of post-psychedelic fragmentation of identity and doubt, of struggling with the ambiguities of celebrity and modernity, a “concept album” whose concept continually eludes the listener. For sure, the album is peppered with oddball, beguiling lyrics in praise of fruits and vegetables (“xuxu beleza, tomate maravilha”), lingerie, or an unexplained aversion to Alice Cooper, and his vocal delivery occasionally bursts into an odd Screamin’ Jay Hawkins warble, but for the most part Baptista’s stream-of-consciousness tales bring us a mix of the quotidian and the transcendent moments that made up a life lived to the limits of mental, spiritual, and physical exhaustion. For my money Baptista was the driving force behind Mutantes — I have never been terribly impressed with Rita Lee’s solo work, even the first two albums that Baptista produced. For me, those records are listenable largely by way of Arnaldo’s involvement; In fact her record “Hoje é o primeiro dia do resto da sua vida” is sort of a counterpart to this one.

But “Loki?” is far more tranquil and pensive; it’s occasional prog-rock flourishes never become cloying or annoying. Some of the songs flow one into the other in true rock-opera fashion. Mileage may vary, however, for the non-Portuguese speaker, as the music here is very much driven by the lyrics. Some of the tunes are self-referential to themselves; in other words, conjuring phrases and images already dealt with in other places on the album. I particular love his occasional use of an English lyric thrown in seemingly at random that matches perfectly the rest of what is going on musically and discursively. There are metaphysical musings – We are all one and the same person, I am the Alpha and Omega, and so on. “Uma Pessoa Só” is graced by the lush arrangements of Rogério Duprat, cradling Baptista’s explorations into the inner cosmos. And then there are moments of raw, confessional tenderness and intimacy — “Desculpe” and “Te amo podes crer” are both too plaintive and profound, too human and eternal, to suffer any hackneyed translations at my hands. My favorite song in the whole bunch is “Navegar de novo” which mixes reminiscence of going to the cinema with his girl, lamenting that the car he bought six months ago is already out of fashion, the tough impersonality of São Paulo; with musings about humanity, the speed of light, the conquest of space, of Brazil as being still a child, and, um, urban planning (I think..) Rita Lee sings backup on “Não estou nem aí.” The album ends with two minutes of an open-tuning 12-string solo guitar piece whose only lyrics, “I love myself like I love you. It’s easy. It’s easy,” his hushed voice mixed into the left channel as if he is whispering in your ear, before he ends the tune banging out guitar chords that rock out more than anything else on the record, giving way to a heavily-flanged fade out. The end. Like one of his more obvious anglophone parallels, one Roger Barrett, the album leaves me with the persistent feeling that there was (is) much more to the man than the “loony” tales and stories, the idiosyncratic behavior, the health problems. Don’t let the legend and the myth distract you from what this album is – a beautiful swan-song.

Additional info contributed by blog friend CK:

I love this album, which I bought back in the days of vinyl records. I’d
like to comment on the so-called Rita albums produced by Arnaldo. The
story that I’ve heard is that her first album, Build Up, was not
originally Rita Lees idea. Os Mutantes went into a forced recess due to
her husband Arnaldo deciding on an adventurous vacation with a friend
traveling by motorcycle from São Paulo to New York. Hitting into some
difficulties along the way (I think he made it to Panama), Arnaldo gave
up on the idea and returned to São Paulo to find Rita midway into an
album. So it was agreed that he can produce some of the remaining
recordings. So yes, he did have a hand in it, but its not like he was
the mastermind behind the helm of the whole thing.

Regarding her
so called second album, ‘Hoje É O Primeiro Dia Do Resto Da Sua Vida’,
the story of this album is quite well known. Mutantes informed their
record company that they have enough material for, and intend to,
release a double album. The record company explained that Mutantes did
not sell enough to warrant a double album. The compromise was to have
the second album out as a Rita Lee album, because she was always the
bands main pull or main attraction in minds of the populous. Arnaldo was
the musical genius, Sergio the guitar wiz kid, but it was Rita’s charm
and charisma that made Mutantes television friendly. So, this is really a
Rita’s album at all although it is officially credited to her.

Regarding
Loki the album, one of the important things to know about the album is
that it was recorded after Rita and Arnaldo split up. Almost all the
songs are directed to Rita in one way or another. Será Que Eu Vou Virar
Bolar questions his musical future without her (venho me apegando ao
passado e em ter você ao meu lado // trans.: I’ve been getting attached
to the past and with you by my side). Uma Pessoa Só is a rerecording of a
Mutantes composition form their 1973 album O A E O Z (The A And The Z),
that was shelved until the nineties. In Não Estou Nem Aí he shows
himself unwilling to deal with the pressures in his life; rather get
high every morning (Não estou nem aí pra morte, nem aí pra sorte/ Eu
quero mais é decolar toda manhã). Rita Lee and Lucy Turnbull, who at
that time were working as a duo called ‘Cilibrina do Eden’, sing
background vocals on this and the following Vou Me Afundar Na Lingerie.
Arnaldo jokingly tuants them (or maybe it’s a shout-out?) on Cê Tá
Pensando Que Eu Sou Loki? (Cilibrina pra cá / Cilibrina pra lá / Eu sou
velho mas gosto de viajar). Descuple is an obvious open letter to Rita
Lee that warranted her to write and record her answer Agora Só Falta
Você on her 1975 album Fruito Proibido. Certainly not the answer Arnaldo
was hoping for. Desculpe is heart breaking in it’s vocal
interpretation, and has Limninha and Dinho giving us pure Mutantes power
in its execution, with only brother Sergio absent. Te Amo Podes Crer
follows Navegar de Novo, both stream of conscience type lyrics, and
follows the pattern of woes for the person identified as ‘you’ that left
and doesn’t want to return. Its a sad record thematically, but
beautiful in it’s playing. The Last song É Facil, Arnaldo amazes me as
how good a guitar player he really is, although he hardly plays the
instrument, up to that point in his carrer.

NOTE #1: There is noticeable noise / digital drop-outs beginning at the 1 minute and 20 second mark on the track “Uma pessoa só”. You may only notice them if you use headphones or a accurate speakers for playback. I compared two different CD copies of this first pressing, and the noise is in the exact same place. Quite likely damaged master tapes. I recently came across a new remaster of this album released on by the Universal group. I have not heard it and am not too inspired to pick it up, since the first pressings on Philips typically sound better than the newer remasters.

NOTE #2: There is a documentary about Arnaldo Baptista also called “Loki.” To my chagrin and consternation I still have not managed to see it. I am sure it has some lovely anecdotes about this album. Hopefully nothing that will make my commentaries look silly (or sillier..).

 

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18 Comments

  1. Thank you!

  2. whats the password?

  3. password/senha:

    vibes

  4. you should watch loki, it's quite nice. but there's not as much about loki as i would've hoped

  5. O albúm "LOKI" é sem dúvida, um dos 10 maiores discos da discografia mundial!é visceral! maravilhoso! eu recomendo a todos!… mas o que ta muito ruim é esse blog q não explica P…nenhuma e com essas informações desncontradas…sei lá…pra quem não conhece o disco acaba se confundindo, ficando sem vontade de conhecer. Na Boa caprichem ai e esse albúm merece!

  6. Anonymous, I almost didn't publish your comment, because you are an unappreciative idiota and it is not in the spirit of this blog. It is also obvious that you either didn't read the description, did not read it closely, or just don't have a solid grasp of English. The former scenario, not knowing English, can't be held against you as a criticism, but neither should YOU make acidic remarks and criticisms of a text you don't understand. I am sorry if YOU are confused by my description of LOKI. But I know a lot MORE people who found it to be accurate, descriptive, and nothing but complementary to the artistry involved. Too bad you are a jackass and can't see that.

  7. Tenho o vinil,é fantástico , obrigado pela divulgação dessa obra rara,um momento único na música de um artista único.

  8. Any chance to re-post this wonderful album! What happen with me! I did not see before and I'm regular follower of your great blog!

  9. I love this album, which I bought back in the days of vinyl records. I'd like to comment on the so-called Rita albums produced by Arnaldo. The story that I've heard is that her first album, Build Up, was not originally Rita Lees idea. Os Mutantes went into a forced recess due to her husband Arnaldo deciding on an adventurous vacation with a friend traveling by motorcycle from São Paulo to New York. Hitting into some difficulties along the way (I think he made it to Panama), Arnaldo gave up on the idea and returned to São Paulo to find Rita midway into an album. So it was agreed that he can produce some of the remaining recordings. So yes, he did have a hand in it, but its not like he was the mastermind behind the helm of the whole thing.

    Regarding her so called second album, 'Hoje É O Primeiro Dia Do Resto Da Sua Vida', the story of this album is quite well known. Mutantes informed their record company that they have enough material for, and intend to, release a double album. The record company explained that Mutantes did not sell enough to warrant a double album. The compromise was to have the second album out as a Rita Lee album, because she was always the bands main pull or main attraction in minds of the populous. Arnaldo was the musical genius, Sergio the guitar wiz kid, but it was Rita's charm and charisma that made Mutantes television friendly. So, this is really a Rita's album at all although it is officially credited to her.

    Regarding Loki the album, one of the important things to know about the album is that it was recorded after Rita and Arnaldo split up. Almost all the songs are directed to Rita in one way or another. Será Que Eu Vou Virar Bolar questions his musical future without her (venho me apegando ao passado e em ter você ao meu lado // trans.: I've been getting attached to the past and with you by my side). Uma Pessoa Só is a rerecording of a Mutantes composition form their 1973 album O A E O Z (The A And The Z), that was shelved until the nineties. In Não Estou Nem Aí he shows himself unwilling to deal with the pressures in his life; rather get high every morning (Não estou nem aí pra morte, nem aí pra sorte/ Eu quero mais é decolar toda manhã). Rita Lee and Lucy Turnbull, who at that time were working as a duo called 'Cilibrina do Eden', sing background vocals on this and the following Vou Me Afundar Na Lingerie. Arnaldo jokingly tuants them (or maybe it's a shout-out?) on Cê Tá Pensando Que Eu Sou Loki? (Cilibrina pra cá / Cilibrina pra lá / Eu sou velho mas gosto de viajar). Descuple is an obvious open letter to Rita Lee that warranted her to write and record her answer Agora Só Falta Você on her 1975 album Fruito Proibido. Certainly not the answer Arnaldo was hoping for. Desculpe is heart breaking in it's vocal interpretation, and has Limninha and Dinho giving us pure Mutantes power in its execution, with only brother Sergio absent. Te Amo Podes Crer follows Navegar de Novo, both stream of conscience type lyrics, and follows the pattern of woes for the person identified as 'you' that left and doesn't want to return. Its a sad record thematically, but beautiful in it's playing. The Last song É Facil, Arnaldo amazes me as how good a guitar player he really is, although he hardly plays the instrument, up to that point in his carrer.
    When I started writing this, I didn't mean it to be so long. But now that it's done, it is what it is I guess.
    Concurring or not, thanks for the opportunity to speak my mind on an album I truly enjoy for may decades.
    By the way, thanks for ripping and posting the Jerry Butler album. I've only just found your blog and hope to find a few more things to download if the links are still available and working.

  10. Thanks for the post, CK. I'm not sure why but I've been reluctant to delve into Mutantes details or `trivia` over the years. In fact I still haven't seen the documentary on Arnaldo, after I missed it at a film festival in Recife years ago. I think it's on DVD now and also around via bittorrent.

    Putting this record in the context of Rita and Arnaldo's breakup certainly makes it less beguiling, but of course there are still some wonderfully bizarre lyrics and turns of phrase.

    Glad you like the Butler album although its about due for a rerip / retransfer now that I've gotten better at it and also made an upgrade in my sound card. There's a few more of his early solo records I hope to present soon. um abraço, F.

  11. Arnaldo's lyrics are generally somewhat bizarre. Are you aware that there are two more albums by Arnaldo in the seventies; Elo Perdido and Faremos Uma Noitada Excelente? You have more of these sort of absurd stream of consciousness lyrics, sometimes funny, sometimes just plain weird. Along with Loki?, these recordings show me how important Rita was to the formatting of the music done within Mutantes, something I'm sure at the time of her participation in the band, was generally overlooked. Rita's solo albums on the other hand have awesome lyrics, full of puns and innuendos, just like the best Mutantes songs have.

    The movie Loki is good and I do recommend it, but it is not trivia laden and has more about Arnaldo than of Mutantes. A lot of my information comes from an excellent book called A Divina Comedia dos Mutantes by Carlos Calado. I strongly recomend it, since you seem to understand Portuguese very well. I am a native, but you don't seem to be. Or am I mistaken?

    By the way, xuxu beleza was a very popular slang in the sixties started during the Jovem Guarda period, possibly by Roberto Carlos himself. something xuxu beleza meant something very good, or very positive. I was in Brasil on vacation in 1971 when Tomate Maravilha was just starting to be used. It's essentially a reinforcement for xuxu beleza; meaning, you never say tomate maravilha on its own. It's always (?) after xux beleza. I mention this because I was under the impression that you might be thinking that the line was something that Arnaldo came up with. That isn't so.

    On another note, I take it that there is no chance for a re-up for Cartola's Verde Que Te Quero Rosa?

  12. HUGE thanks on explaining Xuxu Beleza!!

    I've come across the Carlos Calado book and wondered if it was worthwhile. Thanks to your recommendation, next time I'll be sure to pick it up. And no, not native, just more or less acclimated I guess. And those later Arnaldo records — well, late 70s MPB being what it is (very hit-or-miss), I've never sought those out, especially given that now they are rare as hen's teeth and have grown quite expensive. Of course Mercado Livre is notorious for sellers asking absurd prices that no sane person would pay, but here is an example: http://produto.mercadolivre.com.br/MLB-436907527-lp-arnaldo-patrulha-do-espaco-elo-perdido-77c-encarte-_JM

    Infelizmente, não tem jeito refazer Verde Que Te Quero Rosa. Os links já foram apagados três vezes, não vou arriscar mais.

  13. Gracias Flabber! Realmente se agradece el tiempo que tomas para resubir estas joyas que no fácilmente se consiguen. Y todo tiene una recompensa al final. Ignora los malos comentarios, siempre hay gente que no sabe entender o apreciar este esfuerzo.
    Saludos y paz!

  14. Hi. Link is dead. Can you repost it?
    Thanks in advance.

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