Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Milton Nascimento - Milagre Dos Peixes (1973)

Milton Nascimento's follow up to Clube Da Esquina was this, his most experimental album.  Even the presentation of the original release was out of the ordinary - an elaborate fold-out sleeve and colour-coded inserts for each track, and eight of the album's 11 tracks on LP, the final three on an accompanying 7".  This was a good three years before Songs In The Key Of Life - anyone know of any other precedents, or was Milton the first to do the LP+single package for an album?

The music was much more exploratory, earthy and percussive (Nana Vasconcelos is on fire throughout) than Milton's previous releases.  Highlighting this was the complete absence of lyrics on all but three tracks, the result of censorship from Brazil's military dictatorship of the time.  What remained were repetitive incantations from the vocalists, reaching their most primal on A Chamada, and just exhilarating and celebratory elsewhere.  The jazziness of Native Dancer is prefigured on the longest track Hoje É Dia De El-Rey, and that album would of course see a reworking of the Milagre Dos Peixes title track.

One of three tracks here left with its lyrics intact, the title track remains one of Milton's most enduring and gorgeous songs.  The other two are Pablo, sung by Lô Borges' youngest brother Nico (13 at the time), and a cover of Nelson Angelo's Sacramento, but this album is primarily about the music.  The uplifting rhythms and chants; the occasional string arrangements on Hoje É Dia De El-Rey and the title track; the barroom atmosphere created on A Última Sessão De Música - Milagre Dos Peixes is, in spite of the circumstances in its home nation at the time, a joyous experience, and unique in its creator's lengthy discography.
Alternate cover for European reissues - some with altered running order.

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