Rita Braga isn’t an artist who’s readily pigeonholed, with her idiosyncratic brand of low-key, lo-fi retro/retro music. If retro/retro sounds like an absurdism, bear with me: her songs are brimming with vaudeville vintage vibes, corresponding with the 1950s/1930s sepiatone cover image, while also passing more than a nod to the primitive bedroom indie stylings of seminal new wave act Young Marble Giants with her sparse arrangements and basic drum machine sound.
‘Love is Noir’ is but a snippet, an intro that’s gloomy, doomy, atmospheric, and also filmic, and it paves the way for the skittery, quirky single cut ‘Tremble Like a Ghost’, with its crooked old organ trill, and every inch of ‘Time Warp Blues’ creaks and groans with rust and the weight of the past.
With the majority of the songs being under three minutes long, it’s a fairly short album (12 tracks span just 32 minutes) and the vintage permeates every aspect of its fabric. As a consequence, it’s an album briming with hunting sensations that extend far beyond the immediately tangible, you certainly can’t pin it specifically to the lyrics or any particular songs or passages.
Jerky beats are juxtaposed with tremulous strings which soar and scrape agitatedly against the analogue keyboards – Moogy synths and pipe organ tones, which in tun rub against Rita’s lilting vocals, the lyrics sung in no fewer than four different languages. An yet it doesn’t feel like showing off everything comes together with a remarkably natural feel.
Rita’s cover of Peter Ivers’ ‘You Used to be Stevie Wonder’ sees her come on like Kate Bush… but fronting Bauhaus, while ‘Branca De Neve’ absorbs and reassimilates blues elements as filtered through The Doors, a slightly trippy, trilling organ stomping out a 12-bar groove.
Braga is so, so out of time, but given how dismal the present time is, to be able to immerse oneself in something so wonderfully detached is a rare and special treat.