Photo by Gabe Fernandez
Winter (Samira Winter) and Triptides (Glenn Brigman) didn’t intend to record an album together, but sometimes the stars step in, two people meet and create something beautiful. It seems that this union has been fortuitous for both them and us — it’s like listening to a revelation unravel. Winter & Triptide’s debut album Estrela Magica feels like one of those destined moments when things magically fall into place and life doesn’t seem so haphazard anymore. It appears at just the right time. Estrela Magica is a lush album, inspired by Winter and Brigman’s mutual fervor for Brazilian psychedelic rock, tropicalia, and bossa nova. Rather than trying to sound transcendent or abstract, this album feels like being right at home.
The first track “Tempo”, which means “time” in Portuguese, starts off with slow percussive acoustic guitar, as Winter gently whispers in Portuguese. The track immediately swaddles the listener into a different time as comforting nostalgia surges in. Most of the tracks are in Portuguese or Spanish with a few in English. The mélange of languages act like a bridge rather than a barrier — even if a semantic meaning is lost, more is gained through the familiar hazy sounds.
“Raio de Sol” gives Astrud and João Gilberto a run for their money. The soft, diaphanous clarinet adds so many subtle textures to the track; like warm soft kisses from a lover. The fucking flute solo is killer — all the lightness of the song — that’s probably what floating sounds like. It is a triumphant emulation of bossa nova transformed into something contemporary. Winter is the primary vocalist, but the two main duets “Raio de Sol” and “Ontem” are like precious gifts. The unity of two people in a song is rare nowadays and the connection in these two tracks is felt. The tracks are welcoming, but also create this bittersweet sensation of longing.
The last track “I just wanna be with you” is the most distinct from the rest of the album. The bass, drums, and lyrics are heavier, the guitar is at its warbliest, the tempo slows down and there is more weight to the final track. This seems like the most vulnerable track, like a rupture is happening. Winter sings with so much affection that as she belts the first lyric her voice almost cracks. Its earnest in every way it can be.
The history of tropicalia and bossa nova is bittersweet. It’s one of the most beautiful genres, yet it was created during a turbulent time in Brazilian history. Winter and Triptides debut album already feels like its embedded into cultural history, it is one of those essential albums; it’s hard to explain exactly why but it just is. It’s not trying to escape like so much music is today. Rather, Estrela Magica is able to connect both the past and the present, which is what makes it so unique while still being ordinary.