:: These reviews were originally published
:: in Daniella Thompson on Brazil.


A toast to solitude

Exploring the dissonances of despair.

Daniella Thompson

1 May 2006

Carlos Fuchs and Marcos Sacramento

In May 1999 I met the singer Marcos Sacramento and the pianist Carlos Fuchs for the first time. I arrived in Rio shortly after Brazzil magazine had published my articles about the two (see Magic Marcos and Independent in Rio, Part II), and the very same day they played for me a demo CD of eight songs they had co-written and privately recorded.

The title was already in place: Fossa Nova. Fossa (from the Latin ‘ditch’) is the Brazilian equivalent of our ‘lower depths’ or ‘down in the dumps.’ In the late 1950s and early ’60s, Fossa as a musical style was popularized by Dolores Duran (“Castigo”), Antônio Maria (“Ninguém Me Ama”) and Maysa (“Bom Dia, Tristeza”). Fossa songs are often torch songs, plumbing the depths of despair. Broken hearts are a common byproduct.

Fossa Nova was different. No perfidious lover. No hand-wringing or wet hankies. No accusations. No ostentatious cries of anguish. Yet the despair was apparent in every word and every trill of the piano. This was modern despair—spare, restrained, too proud to ask for sympathy. At times, the piano came close to fooling you into believing that what you were hearing was a light-hearted ditty, but dissonance soon entered to dispell any lingering illusions.

There was also a measure of defiance behind the recordings. They had been made during the carnaval of 1998. There are Brazilians who detest carnaval and do everything in their power to avoid it (it’s not easy), but Sacramento isn’t one of those. In his case, it was a clear indication of the difficult times he was traversing. That year, Dabliú Discos released his second solo album, Caracane, which had taken him years to produce. The album was going nowhere fast, as was the singer’s artistic career. Concurrently, unacknowledged personal problems were clouding his professional life. Somehow, he was able to turn the anguish and insecurity into dark, oblique, intuitive poems.

Na Rua dos Animais   

Estou na rua
No seio, no meio, na veia da rua
E vejo os outros animais no escuro

Quero estar nu

No frio, no cio, no rio da rua
Como os outros animais

A rua é minha
Minha é a sua ruina
Minha sina de marau

Estou na praça
No poço da praça
Quero estar louco
Quero estar solto
Congraça com os outros animais

Fuchs’ settings for the poems turned them into art songs. This was a far cry from mass-market popular music and sufficiently remote from micro-market MPB. In short, it had no chance of being released by any label. The disc went into the drawer. Over the ensuing years, the authors added four songs (and 17 crucial minutes) to the CD, which pushed its duration into the acceptable range. Having overcome his debilitating problems, Sacramento finally emerged from obscurity with the breakthrough disc Memorável Samba, his immense talent acknowledged at last. With the cost of independent production dropping, Fuchs was able to co-found the label Olho do Tempo and release Fossa Nova.

It’s a happy ending for a declaration of profound unhappiness. What could be more apt?

Marcos Sacramento & Carlos Fuchs: Fossa Nova
(Olho do Tempo OLT-002; 2005) 37:36 min.

01. Um Brinde à Solidão (Carlos Fuchs/Marcos Sacramento)
02. Brinde ao Desejo (Carlos Fuchs/Marcos Sacramento)
03. Na Rua dos Animais (Carlos Fuchs/Marcos Sacramento)
04. Na Rua dos Loucos (Carlos Fuchs/Mathilda Kóvak)
05. Casa dos Outros (Carlos Fuchs/Marcos Sacramento)
06. Um Brinde à Palavra (Carlos Fuchs/Marcos Sacramento)
07. Fossa Nova (Carlos Fuchs)
08. A Casa do Tempo (Carlos Fuchs/Marcos Sacramento)
09. A Casa do Corpo (Carlos Fuchs/Marcos Sacramento/Fernando Morello)
10. Rua dos Varredores (Carlos Fuchs/Marcos Sacramento)
11. Um Samba (Carlos Fuchs/Marcos Sacramento)
12. O Fim (Carlos Fuchs/Marcos Sacramento)

Marcos Sacramento: vocals
Carlos Fuchs: piano
Production & arrangements: Carlos Fuchs


Copyright © 2006–2008 Daniella Thompson. All rights reserved.