Bilan - Ar/Agua

By: Orlando da Silva

Bilan - Ar/Agua



SOUNDS LIKE: A wide mixture of influences that adds up to a deeply personal and original debut.

Based out of Sao Vincente, Cape Verde - the same island that gave us the great Cesária Évora - comes Bilan, a singer songwriter who sounds like a lot of things at the same time. He and his band skip and mix genres while maintaining such a clear personality that it never sounds like they are just trying things on.

The five song EP Ar/ Água is as good an introduction to Bilan as one could possibly want. Ar/Água means "Air/Water" in Portuguese, and these elemental choices are fitting to the fluidity of their sound. Live, the band is loose, inspired, and ready to take songs in different directions. The record tightens up and focuses the individual tracks but you still get a sense of being fluidly transitioned from one to the next, even if they're touching on a lot of different ideas musically. The smoky bossa nova (complete with vibraphone) of "Água Quente" leads into a stuttering afrobeat snare in "Dia d'Manha", and the two tracks sound completely at home next to each other. Most tracks have a slow build, and really only the last one, "Papa Jukin Paris" fails to build to something, ending the EP on a hushed tone.

Bilan, like Évora before him, is turning a mish-mash of sounds and influences into something deeply personal, and startlingly fresh. Ar/Água is a very strong first offering, and if their live show is any indication, great things will come from this band in the future. A mixture of Cape Verdian and Portuguese styles with latin jazz and indie-rock guitar infused into that mix is something I didn't know existed, but am delighted to have stumbled upon.

It's only a shame that you can't actually buy this outside of Bilan's live performances yet. I recommend their MySpace, which you can jump to on the handy link below. Keep checking back with SoundProof in the future for an MP3 download.

Video: “Promo“ by Bilan

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