"I have a hard time with modern technology," says Brazilian icon Gilberto Gil, describing the theme of his latest CD, Banda Larga Cordel. "I admit that I use it with moderation, but I am nevertheless fascinated by it." This awe was the inspiration for his first disc of original material in four years, whose title translates as Broadband Pamphlet. "As I wrote the songs, I noticed that there was a clear influence from the cordel poetry of the northeast [which is printed in pamphlets and read on city streets], but there was also a certain link with the concept of the connectivity we have these days."
Among the highlights on Banda Larga Cordel is "Nao Tenho Medo Da Morte" ("I Do Not Fear Death"), a ballad that poetically reflects on dying and its inevitability, sung from the point of view of a 65-year-old man who realizes there are fewer days ahead than the ones left behind. On the flip side is the upbeat "Samba de Los Angeles," a number that has little to do with Southern California but that has a catchy rhythm that ensnares the listener from the get-go.
"The songs came to me during hotel stays," Gil says. "I had gone through a four-year songwriting hiatus due to my work with the government [he has served as secretary of culture for the current Brazilian administration since 2003], and after the tunes came together, I took advantage of weekends to go into the studio."
One of the first Brazilian artists to embrace the internet in the mid-'90s, Gil has made efforts to make his tunes available online, often releasing alternate takes of his music while allowing fans to record concerts in their entirety for personal use. Such is also the case during this current tour, which will feature a six-piece band that includes daughter Preta Gil on vocals and son Bem Gil on guitar.