Nearly every year, I pick out an album as "sexiest album of the year." I think the year that I first started thinking in terms of "sexy music" was back in 1994 when Dummy by Portishead (which still stands in the top spot as the most smoldering album I've ever heard) came out. I was sort of a late bloomer I guess, but after that album broke down the barrier for me, I had no problems referring to things as "sexy" without blushing or thinking of girls that I'd like to play it for.
That last part significant in the hearing of Bebel Gilberto, because I probably would have never heard Tanto Tempo had it not been for the keen listening habits of quite a wonderful girl. She bought the album one day when we were out record shopping and put it on the stereo when we got back in my car. Because we have slightly different tastes, I didn't quite know what I would be hearing, but as soon as the opening swagger of "Samba da Benção" came on, I was enthralled. Oozing along with a smokey lounge bossa nova feel, the track made me swoon a bit. Gilberto's voice fluttered above it all in a language that I couldn't understand, but I really didn't need to.
When I got home and started looking at the release a little closer, I realized that none other than breakbeat extraordinaire Amon Tobin had produced the instrumentation on that track, and it threw me for a bit of a loop. Although I scanned for more big names (in terms of electronic music) and didn't find them, the rest of the album is still by no means a letdown. Moving along with a mixture of bossa nova, downbeat electronic music, lounge, and a touch of other ethnic music, it's a melting pot of sweltering tracks that create a perfect soundtrack for a weekend in the sun or a weekend in bed (hint-hint). Whether with simple guitar backing (as on "Samba e Amor") or shuffling orchestral lounge (album-titled "Tanto Tempo"), Gilberto's voice is the focal point of every track and it never falters. Interestingly, the only track that I found less-than-interesting is the only one that she sings in English.
While there are a couple tracks on the disc that lapse into somewhat world music-lite sounds (the somewhat silly slap bass and keyboards of "Bananeira" and the bongo drumming / quick strummy guitar of "Sem Contenção"), things never reach the cheese-levels of a release like Deep Forest, and of course the vocals of Gilberto are infinitely better than pygmy hymns. Daughter of Astrud Gilberto and Gilberto Gil, there are obviously some good music lines running in the family (rather than a case of nepotism). If I didn't pick a sexiest album of 2001, I have one now.