Brazil 5: The Return of Tom Zé: The Hips of Tradition

Tom Zé

June 16, 1992

“Tom Zé continues to feed off of these conflicts in Brazilian life. His music reflects an acute awareness of what is going on. You can hear it without understanding the lyrics. Lyrics which are incredible but which are, in some cases, nonsense syllables, as if even he can find no words better to articulate the swarming influences outside his windows in São Paulo. He is a man from the poor Northeast living in the Big City, looking at it with the eyes and ears of a poet. Both inside it and outside it at the same time. Tom Zé’s is music which gives us hope. Music that finds beauty in strange places.”

-David Byrne, August 1990

On The Hips of Tradition, here’s what you have in store: Household appliances and tools in arrangements with horns, strings, “prepared” guitars (punctuated by grunts, screams and other wild percussion), all melded with eccentric metaphorical lyricism. The result: sounds of “sambas and archangels / street and street riot,” sometimes hypnotic, sometimes dissonant and always a beautiful amalgamation of unusual noises, hysterical lyrics, and pop songs that remain an essential part of the Brazilian historical legacy of musical exploration.

The The Return of Tom Zé: The Hips of Tradition Album Art