Gilberto Gil's world tour in 1997 was a startling revelation for North American audiences who had not heard from him live in several years, if at all. Quanta Live was recorded in Rio not long before his appearance at the Hollywood Bowl – and unlike the latter concert, which was strongly rooted in the samba, this CD more fully reflects Gil's role as a pioneer of Brazil's cosmopolitan "tropicalismo" music movement.
Longtime fans of the Brazilian bard could probably do without the slick synthesizers and sterile drum loops that candy up his 36th album, but no Gil effort is without appeal. Throughout Quanta, he gets by on his gift for melody and his far-ranging imagination (a trademark of the Tropicalia movement). Shouts-out to quantum mechanics, crab vendors, and the goddess Shiva dot his slinky, intricate compositions. "Pela Internet," a buoyant, starry-eyed ode to the information superhighway, makes a strong impression, but the real high point comes toward the end with a trio of songs that rely on little more than acoustic guitar and Gil's mellow, lilting voice.
The Syrian American producer lingers with grief and horror on her past while the music accelerates into the future.