Review: Azymuth – Fênix
Azymuth are back with their first album in over 5 years this December. 'Fênix' arrives on December 2nd in all formats, and their slick, sun-soaked sound should offer some welcome relief over the cold weeks in the run up to Christmas.
The Brazilian trio of Ivan Conti, Alex Malheiros, and Kiko Continentino seek to recreate the vibrant sound of the 70s, which saw Azymuth propelled to international success and cemented their status as one of Brazil's most successful acts. Some of their tracks from that early period are serious gems. 1979 hit single 'Jazz Carnival', for example, peaked at number 19 in the UK Charts in 1980 – but still feels as energetic today, with high octane percussion and crazy synths – played by the late Jose Bertrami, who passed in 2012.
In a tribute to their former keyboardist, Azymuth take on a new lease of life with the suitably named 'Fênix', with Kiko Continentino taking to the keys to help recapture the old sound and help shape some new ideas as well. A hugely talented pianist, composer and arranger, Kiko has worked with the likes of Milton Nascimento, Gilberto Gil and Djavan, with this experience helping bring fresh energy and inspiration to the group.
The 9-track record exhibits all of the musicianship, expressiveness, and warmth we would expect from Azymuth. The down-tempo opener 'Villa Mariana (De Tarde)' sets the tone, introducing us to the smooth cocktail of bass, synths, percussion, and dreamy vocals which make up the rest of the album. Beyond this dream laced disco and luxuriously tinted balearic tracks lie at each corner. The title track 'Fênix' is one of the highest energy cuts off the album, bringing together bass slaps, sun-soaked chords, an electric guitar solo, and a timelessly cool vocoder. Other tracks, such as 'Papa Samba' give Ivan Conti a chance to show off his skills on percussion, and while Alex Malheiros's bass is a mainstay of the album, it sounds particularly slick on 'Orange Clouds'. This is a beautiful reminder of the relevance of a band who continue to enchant and surprise us despite their age.
Loyal Azymuth followers won't be disappointed.
You can pre-order Azymuth's new album HERE.