Review: Marlene Ribeiro ‘Toquei No Sol’

The name Marlene Ribeiro may not mean anything to you, just like it didn’t to me until I took on this review, and started researching a little deeper, but if you do have an awareness of the band GNOD, then you will already be aware of Marlene’s work, even if you can’t place the name. As one of the long-term members of GNOD, Marlene took the decision a couple of years back to step away, and focus on her own musical journey, embracing sounds and feeling that I imagine weren’t a hundred percent compatible with the band.

Marlene Ribeiro 'Toquei No Sol'

Obviously, after a trying few years, the fruits of the labours have come together and formulated an album, truly full of wonder and beauty indeed.

Born and raised in Portugal, Marlene came to the United Kingdom as a teen and has resided in several different places, before falling into Wales to call home. In that time allegiances were formed, bands created, and throughout the course of an impressive number of years, those skills have been homed into what we see before us today.

And it’s that culmination that I will be looking at, a wonderfully deep, poignant, and warm album, filled with moments of pure joy, heart-melting ambience, and charm, that will leave you feeling like your very soul has been embraced.

Toquei No Sol, which translates from Portuguese as ‘I touched the sun’, couldn’t be more aptly titled, because that is literally how it will make you feel throughout the whole experience. It is a six-track masterwork of depth, restraint, and carefully considered moments, guaranteed to leave you absolutely humbled in its wake.

The album opens with the seven plus minute Quatro Palavras, which is a tale of two acts. The first, a minimalist soundscape, like the sound of the warm summer in the air, it’s rich and effortless, serene and carefree. This is gently broken by the sound of footsteps, and a spoken Portuguese passage, before act two rolls in. As it does, a sublimely gentle vocal is introduced, accompanied by a wispy instrument section that evolves the piece into something altogether trippier. Its ambience is completely intoxicating and leaves me drawing a huge comparison to early Warpaint, before they found some commercial fame. It sets up for what will turn out to be a monumental six slices of heaven, orchestrated beautifully.

Sangue De Lua De Lobo swiftly falls into the sound space and absolutely confirms the legitimacy and integrity of the musicianship. This time it is left for the instruments to do the talking, and as unexpected sounds, such as those of the oboe come into play, solidifies the scope of ideas and concepts which have all taken part to build this into something far more organic and sinuous than what was to be expected.

like the sound of the warm summer in the air, it’s rich and effortless, serene and carefree…

While the title track, Toquei No Sol, brings us back around with the sound that was conceived during Quatro Palavras, it also gives off an air of a hypnotic chant too. It is thoroughly otherworldly, and the chilled repetitiveness is simply wonderous. It really does feel warm and comforting.

You Do It continues that Warpaint sound, with its ethereal twin vocal, and oozing slow-motion dreaminess. It feels transcendental, and is absolutely tantric, for lack of a better word while Forever greets us with a poignant opening of a solitary guitar before an accompaniment rolls in. It has a slow mesmerising bassline and muted key notes, that give an air of sobriety to the piece, keeping it rooted within the soul.

‘What it is’ closes the album, and even though there are six fair sized tracks, all between four and eight minutes long, I could have easily listened to another six, without batting an eyelid. That’s the thing with this album, I didn’t want it to end. Once I had gotten to this point, I wished desperately that we were only midway.

What It Is, like a couple of the other tracks, is a game of two halves. Just when you think it is going one way, it veers off, and before you know it, you’re in a completely separate mental space altogether. As I’ve mentioned previously, there is a real want to compare with early Warpaint, which is no bad thing, as early Warpaint were phenomenal. Again, there is an ethereal chanted vocal, it’s calm and serene. The warmth within me that it generates is surreal, I’ve not really known of music to leave me feeling this way, but here it is, completely all consuming, and totally embracing. By its climax it almost feels like it’s travelling away, as if it isn’t ending, just changing course, and deviating off elsewhere.

There are a few bands who leave me out of my comfort zone, but happily blissful. The new Fågelle album that I recently reviewed had a similar effect, and Lore City always leave my head calmer and healthier, but with this, it’s on an altogether different plain completely.

If you want to be taken away on a journey you didn’t know you wanted, then Toquei No Sol is for you. It’s an album to lay back, close your eyes, and drift away to. Perfect for a warm summer’s day, or a dark winter evening, either way, it will embrace you with its charm.

Label: Rocket Recordings | Lovers & Lollypops
Band Links: Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Lee Beamish