The 13 tracks of this album (despite the title’s suggested “doze” – twelve, in Portuguese) develop the original body of work that began in Baião da Flor, Manu’s first CD. It takes this path through what João Gilberto called “mantras” – as in Estrela Guia – or in other, humorous ones, like A Gente Podia, with the lyric that seduces by inviting to “see planes take off”. Cidade Inacabada, a bossa nova exaltation of whimsical, yet subtle, modulations, pays homage to São Paulo. Participating are Monica Salmaso, José Miguel Wisnik and Danilo Caymmi – this latter starting on what will become an assiduous partnership that originated in his seeing Manu on a television program, which the author of Andança settled on by chance during a “zapping” session with his remote control.
Release by Guilherme Wisnik
Doze Fotogramas is a consolidation piece. After Baião da Flor (1998), his debut album, Manu Lafer brought together the threads of what could still be seen, in some ways, as a catalogue of genres, to delve deeper into his own journey. This is a poetic-musical verticalization based on a persistent theme. Manu systematically avoids emotional outpourings, torn afflictions and romantic ballads. His poetry develops over a duplicity that tends to leap from this intermediary, at times focusing on light, banal themes, in the form of chronicles, at others on philosophical, existential thoughts. This alternating pattern can also be seen in the previous album, if we look at Eu Vou te Pegar on one side and Deusa Densa on the other, for example.
Also present is a certain – direct and indirect – reading of the popular Brazilian songbook. Sabrina and Gente 3 are explicit references to Marina (by Dorival Caymmi) and Gente (by Caetano Veloso). But, there are also subliminal readings, connections and affinities processed deeper underground. Gilberto Gil, for example, is a hidden presence in A Lente do Homem, one of the high points of the album. I am referring to the poetic elaboration of the theme of religion and science, pointing out the human sense in the mystery, in the synchronized leap from the micro to the macro, from the sky to the fetus. The solution Manu found, with an undulating melody that always seems to extend instead of resting, bears a touching and original lyricism.
Also in Doze Fotogramas, the song that lends its title to the album, the synthetic effect of the song-lyrics relationship is a happy one. “Visually”, the lyrics explore the dreamlike suspension of the melody by Danilo Caymmi, constructing photographic snapshots over which time runs (“they are three and spill you over”). In this pulse, the connotative effect likens the intimacy of a couple (bag, lipstick, photo album) and the theatricality of a representation (photo, cinema, soap opera). Without wanting to force the point, I see, here, a conversation with the universe of Chico Buarque, where A Mais Bonita serves as the backdrop. In Manu’s instant, the click is like a mirror facing someone putting on make-up, or being made up.
Alongside these songs, as I mentioned at the start, there are also those that play with popular language, with set phrases, jargon and puns purposefully rubbing up against a certain shallow mischief, one void of charisma. Such is the case in A Gente Podia, for example, which deals with romantic near misses underlying an apparent ease of the initial arrangement between men and women, of the getting closer without the fluff that characterizes it. In No Fim Das Contas, we also see a description of someone who would like to do one thing, but ends up doing another, all the while awkwardly dealing with the intimacy that turns out to be deep, without special effects, with affection free of affectation (forgive the pun).