Cidadão Instigado is the quirky brainchild of Fernando Catatau, one of the most beguiling songwriters and guitarists to have emerged from Brazil in the last decade. Originally from the northeastern Brazilian city of Fortaleza and now based in bustling Sao Paulo, he's been working as the guitarist for fellow Paulista star Otto, but it's under the banner of CI that he crafts his most personal output. Like a true child of Tropicalia, Catatau seems to acknowledge no boundaries — in a heartbeat, his songs flit from one style to another, yet never without reason or grace. With a nasal croon that recalls the voice of Tom Zé he embraces his national roots here and there — the gorgeous, calculatedly sentimental opener “Te Encontra Logo” is a loving homage to unabashedly cheesy brega music — but more often than not, Catatau forges unexpected combinations that suggest nothing I've ever heard before.
“Os Urubus Só Pensam Em Te Comer” opens as a devastating blast of artsy electro-funk, but then the leader's wiggy guitar playing takes over, snaking through the pounding breaks with pedal-hopping glee; suddenly were in low-rent techno land, as synth stabs battle with some wild saxophone skronking. Just as delightfully strange is “O Pobre Dos Dentes de Ouro” (which recently turned up on the latest Luaka Bop Brazilian collection What's Happening in Pernambuco?), where a vaguely tropical groove and breezy falsetto vocals alternate with batacuda beats, when the groove jumps into a dark mélange of heaving electronic beats, thick, flanged-out electric guitar that keeps on spinning out alternately lyrical, alternately groovy lines (a la Jorgé Ben), leading straight into a delirious vortex of sound. Disco, reggae, Hendrix-style guitar psychedelia, sensitive balladry and hooky pop — it's all in here. Eventually, time will reveal this album as a classic. But why wait until then?