Bruno Berle, No Reino Afetos 2  
Bruno Berle
No Reino Afetos 2
Label: Far Out
Release Year: 2024
Style: Latin & Brasil & Afro
  Bruno Berle, the young songwriter and poet originally hailing from Maceió, the capital of Brazil’s Alagoas state, crafts songs that are simple, direct, and full of tender nuance. With his first album No Reino Dos Afetos (which translates to "In the Realm of Affections” and was released in 2022), Berle firmly established himself as a unique and important voice in the burgeoning scene of new Brazilian artists making a global impact, including peers like Ana Frango Elétrico, Tim Bernardes, Bala Desejo, Sessa and more. Now back with his second album, No Reino Dos Afetos 2, he stretches that further.

Bruno Berle’s music lives between two worlds – a traditional Brazilian folk talent steeped in history, and a contemporary, dreamy electronic pop; the result is songwriting that’s genre-bending, intentional, iconoclastic and consuming, spacious and sinewy and singular, a striking reflection of its composer while leaving space for the listener to settle in. The album follows Bruno’s relocation to São Paulo, and the songs are a reflection of his past and present. A rebuke of former categorizations of his work in Brazilian music scenes, and an idea of where his music can move, unfettered.

Berle’s music is purposeful in being a true portrait of himself, and a reflection of the music, art, and fashion scenes he personally moves through. Berle aims to provide an entrypoint for Black queer joy in his music, in his storytelling, in his presence and vision as a creative. For him, it feels subversive to be playing MPB laced with dubstep and lo-fi, a sort of intentional sacrilege, capturing a dialogue of modernity in traditional music.

Berle wrote most of the arrangements and co-produced his new album, Reino Dos Afetos 2 with longtime friend and musical partner Batata Boy, who is also from Maceió; the album was recorded in Rio de Janeiro, Maceió, and São Paulo, his new home, and picks up the conversation begun in 2022 on Berle’s debut album No Reino dos Afetos. Both records are the result of a nonlinear but coherent seven-year music creation process culminating in these albums, holding hands across space and time.

“Tirolirole,” the first single from the record, was released at the end of 2023; sun-soaked rhythms and soft voice coat the song, the lilting refrain of “Tirolirole” throughout – hushed, gentle, but somehow almost tactile, a golden-hour moment unlocked in the mind. “Tirolirole” is a triumphant future classic about the temporality of a blossoming love, with Bruno’s stunning vocal soaring over melodies which ebb and flow like the waters on the Atlantic shore. Of the track, Berle explains: “Despite ‘Tirolirole’ being an expression that evokes my childhood, just like the light words about nature, the harmony, and the poetry are epic, carrying a great hope for love.”

In fact, the guiding theme of No Reino dos Afetos 2 is a relationship, unfolding in the arc of a weekend. It traverses the innocence of an early young love, how that can be formative, can stretch on to take new shapes, or shape you. The album happens at the genesis of meeting someone and falling for them, before the relationship is thrown into overdrive – set in a big city, against a backdrop of major life changes, rising energy, the sound of São Paulo.

Something transcendental emerges in “Dizer Adeus,” with an arrangement that echoes a gospel atmosphere (evangelical and Catholic environments were pivotal to Berle’s upbringing). On “É Só Você Chegar,” piano and flute gracefully intertwine, a dance, while “Quando Penso” skews sparser, the voice-and-guitar minimalism somehow cultivating an entirely different shape – somehow both cozy and melancholy, with the background sound of a rainy day. Coupled with the lo-fi aspects that shape much of the album’s personality in the vocals and the production, No Reino Dos Afetos 2 is meticulously elaborated by Berle’s sonic alchemy, like on the mid-album instrumental “Sonho,” which feels like floating. “It’s the apex. It’s when lovers are sleeping together,” Berle explains of the feeling he wanted to encapsulate in the song.

On “Love Comes Back” Berle interprets Arthur Russell, the late Iowa musician who only reached greater visibility after he died in 1992. “His way of making music is similar to mine,” Berle explains. “He sings in a more fragile way, has more of an experimental way of recording, letting ‘chance’ appear in the final work.”

Even so, Berle doesn’t want his music to be buried in sentimentality – and the purposefulness of his craft serves as a sort of north star. The production, the arrangements, his restraint and intentionality in crafting his songs feel just as vital as their emotional cores. His songwriting is amorphous, fluid, an encompassing genre-bending movement in-and-of-itself, quietly daring. The songs are often in conversation with other works – drinking in fountains as diverse as the filmmaking of Ingmar Bergman, the poetry of Walt Whitman, the rhythm of Djavan, and the painting of Maxwell Alexandre. Musically he weaves together a rich tapestry of Brazilian folk, UK 2-step garage/dub, trip hop and sun soaked west coast songwriters; something akin to the worlds of Milton Nascimento, Arthur Russell, James Blake, Feist, and Sade colliding into one. But even then No Reino Dos Afetos 2 floats separately, a romanticism driven by a simplicity and intimacy, an open-ended possibility, Berle’s singularity as an artist at the helm of the ship.
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