Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bonde do Role - 'With Lasers'

Let’s talk weird hybrids. Imagine Miami Sound Machine. Focus on the Latin funk rhythms. Now imagine punching Gloria Estefan in the face and putting British grime rapper M.I.A. in her stead. Now pour some electro-metal on, and wrap it all in an indecipherable layer of Portuguese. That’s a rough, working image of what one can expect to hear from Bonde Do Role’s full-length debut, With Lasers.

Consisting of MCs Pedro D’Eyrot and Marina Vello, plus DJ/MC Rodrigo Gorky, the Brazillian group Bonde Do Role have crafted a fun, but incredibly weird, record with With Lasers. Oddly danceable and sexual, With Lasers gets by on freakish beats and vocals, but little else. On the plus side, though, the cover art features Jesus Christ shooting lasers out of his eyes, which is super cool.

Listeners are thrown for a loop right away, thanks to the opening measures of “Dang do Zumbi,” in which metal guitar noodles and a doom-filled voice intones, “Death to your speakers” for 50 seconds. It’s kind of creepy, and totally defies everything written about Bonde Do Role in this article so far (So sorry if that’s a spoiler). After this intro ends though, “Dang do Zumbi” turns into a real Bonde track, with all of the group’s hallmarks: baile funk, MC interplay that skips across Portugese, Spanish, and English, electro-tinged metal guitar, and loads o’ fun.

Track two, “Solta O Frango,” is where the album draws more of a M.I.A.-like sound. Aurally, the two acts rely on a tinny, toy-like approach to crafting instrumentals, and M.I.A. and Vello’s vocals are similarly slurred and sexy. And like, M.I.A., Bonde Do Role serves up great dance party bombs.

Later album cuts show the band stretching out a little bit, like the walkin’ on sunshine pep of “Tieta” or the freaky sexual “Ah! Ah! Me gusta!”s of “Divine Gosa.” The band is well aware that their linguistic shifts aren’t the easiest to follow, so they give fans a break with a really easy chorus to memorize on “Office Boy”  “Bah-buh-bah-buh-bah, bah-buh-bah-buh-bah, bah-buh-bah-buh-bah-boy.” It’s catchy, and it works.

But while listeners can enjoy the bizarre freak-fun horns of “Gasolina” or the dance-gasm of “Divine Gosa,” there’s a certain point where everybody’s body is going to need a break. Thankfully, With Lasers ends mercifully at the half-hour mark. It’s just long enough to become slightly tiresome, but not enough to become annoying. Bonde Do Role is a solid South American baile funk dance indie techno metal pop band, and so unique that this sentence doesn’t even come close to describing the group’s sound.

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