Author Archives: Carlos Tomé Sousa

Mãe negra

Madonna fez mais pela divulgação da música negra de expressão portuguesa e crioula do que muitos

Chegou de armas e bagagens a Lisboa e com as chuteiras do filho no saco e fez mais pela divulgação da música negra de expressão portuguesa e crioula do que muitos. E com isso devolveu a dignidade a quem merecia um pouco mais de reconhecimento por fazer desta Lisboa uma cidade multicultural. verdadeiramente global. Mas não ganhou medalhas, ganhou antes uma certa indiferença. A Lisboa branca não lhe perdoou. Em vez de frequentar os salões nobres da nação embrenhou-se em jam-sessions com fadistas, músicos e cantores negros, bailarinas e batucadeiras. E subiu ao palco numa série de concertos onde abriu os palcos a essa música tantas vezes esquecida. Madonna veio a Lisboa e não embarcou na feira de vaidades da capital, preferindo a feira das verdades, dos ritmos espontâneos e quentes e a Lisboa branca não lhe perdoou, votou-a a um certo ostracismo, invejou-lhe os lugares de estacionamento e não a acariciou por aí além. E Madonna couldn’t care less. Diz quem sabe e quem vê, e está bem visível para quem ouve e vê as suas mais recentes produções, que ela se divertiu à grande, trocando o Portugal empertigado preferindo os sons de África que estão por todo o lado.

Carlos Tomé Sousa

In praise of Robert Fripp

A dispute over royalties is opposing the David Bowie Estate and Robert Fripp one of the best, most influential and respected guitar players in modern music.

The first time I saw Robert Fripp live was in 1982 in Faro, the Algarve, where he played with his band King Crimson supporting Roxy Music, and this brings to mind a funny anecdote. “Uau, look at him jumping on stage, the great Robert Fripp!”. But the dancing man on stage was not Fripp but rather Adrian Bellew who, together with Tony Levin, ensured most of the moves and with Bill Brufford during the hypnotising “Waiting Man” where Adian and Bill engaged on a true duel in front of the vibraphone, one of the highlights of the show. As for Fripp he spent most of concert sitting on a bar stool discretely playing his guitar. “No, man Robert Fripp is the guy on a tuxedo sitting down!”. This episode tells a lot about both the importance but also about the discretion of one of the best and most respected guitar players in the world, the man who left his mark in a myriad of records from David Sylvian to David Bowie through to King Crimson, Talking Heads, Brian Eno, The Grid, Peter Gabriel… Tracks like “I Zimbra” from Talking Heads, “Heroes” by David Bowie, the whole “Gone to Earth” album by David Sylvian or “456” by The Grid would never be the same with the particular sound of Fripps’s guitar. The list of tracks where his guitar played a decisive role in shaping the sound and delivering a particular atmosphere is enormous and we could add a couple more like “No self-control”, “I Don’t Remember” and “Not One of Us” by Peter Gabriel, “Baby’s on fire” by Brian Eno or David Bowie’s “Fashion”, “It’s No Game”, “Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)”, “Kingdom Come”, “Up the Hill Backwards” and “Teenage Wildlife”.

And it’s precisely the songs he recorded for Bowie’s albums “Heroes” and “Scary Monsters” that are now bringing Robert Fripp to the front pages of the music and general press following his claim to be taken as a featured artist and not just as mere session guitar player, a dispute that is opposing him to David Bowie’s estate and PPL ((Phonographic Performance Limited) that doesn’t recognise his status as feature performer and so therefore has been refusing to pay him the relevant royalties, claiming that when the tracks were recorded there was no such thing as featured player. But his work as featured player has been acknowledged by both Brian Eno and Tony Visconti who were deeply involved in the production of Bowie’s albums particularly Brian Eno during the so-called Berlin phase. Without Eno and Fripp’s mastery in creating soundscapes the song “Heroes” wouldn’t have been what it is and the same goes to most of the tracks on Scary Monsters where Fripp’s guitar was essential for the final outcome. The dispute involving Fripp and the Bowie estate and PPL is thus not just about money, it’s about acknowledging the important role of Robert Fripp as one of the most influential guitar players in modern music. When listening to his guitar on “Heroes” we realise he didn’t just lend the ink, he actually painted half the painting.

Carlos Tomé Sousa

Felipe Oliveira Baptista opens a new page at Kenzo.

Photo by Karim Sadli

The Portuguese-born and Paris-based designer and former creative director of Lacoste is as of today at the helm of Kenzo.

“This is the end of a page, not the end of the book”. These words date back to February 2014 when Felipe Oliveira Baptista decided to put his eponymous brand on hold in order to focus on other projects and after 10 years presenting his designs and assisted by the fashion platform Portugal Fashion. And what a book, may we add.  Shortly after there he was working for Lacoste as creative designer, a position he retained until the spring of 2018. As of today Felipe is at the creative Helm of the Japanese brand Kenzo part also of the LVMH empire whose speakers stated that one of the reasons behind this invitation lie in his relationship with different cultures. But considering the good results achieved at Lacoste during his tenure and the underperformance of Kenzo at LVMH when compared to other giants in this group, money may have played also a decisive role. Felipe origins were there in some of his designs when he appropriated some elements of his place of birth, the Azores, but looking at his body of work it breathes rather some restraint and contained elegance which is also synonym for Kenzo for many who prefer precisely that containment than the overt flowery patterns or the unbearable tiger.  Looking back at his work with his eponymous brand and the brands that inspired him of for which he worked for Felipe may thus become the right man to revive Kenzo.  

Carlos Tomé Sousa

The affectionate punch

And the working classes rejoicing at the wonders of Portugal. What a lovely country of crispy custards and warm nights where everything is so affordable and people speak our language. 
And Mireille feeling so happy for the Portuguese lady she met back then in France who made it in life, she moved back from cleaning toilets to cleaning the toilet of her own house she now rents to tourists, the sheets always impeccable, and her daughter a fine nurse in Cornwall 
And Nancy aghast at the sight of the hordes who now flock to the beaches that were there not for the many but for the few who could afford the luxuries and enjoy the vagaries of time among kings and royals, noblemen and spies. 
And the world rejoicing at royal estate margins, what a bargain, glazed tiles and derelict palaces waiting for the gentry’s helping hand and the economy and the country so nice and thankful for the moneys. 
And the people, the locals so happy celebrating at the sound of amusing tunes and sardines and street parties, oh it’s all so lovely, let’s move in, so affordable, so adorable.

Carlos Tomé Sousa

O mar da vergonha

O Mediterrâneo é um cemitério de águas aparentemente tranquilas onde diariamente morrem os aflitos deste mundo. Sem meios, sem medo do medo, aventuram-se mar adentro, por esse mar morno, mais vale moribundo do que morto de medo, de fome na margem de partida. A meio do mar, uma alma caridosa há-de contrariar a sua sina, numa costa a norte alguém abrirá os braços. E enquanto o milagre não acontece, vagueiam no meio do mar, olhando para os céus, apelando aos deuses na esperança de que alguém se faça ao mar e venha em seu auxílio.

É neste cenário, num mar de corpos que se acumulam em frágeis embarcações, quase sem vida, que a Sea Eye opera, contrariando a indiferença generalizada, salvando quem pode. No início de Fevereiro, um dos barcos operados por esta instituição alemã foi baptizado com o nome de Alan Kurdi, em homenagem ao menino que deu à costa sem vida numa praia da Turquia e cuja foto correu e impressionou mundo. A cerimónia contou com a presença do pai do menino e que nessa terrível travessia perdeu toda a sua família. Mas a foto do menino e a reportagem deste acto simbólico já não vendem. Foram engolidas na voragem mediática por outras questões. Passado o choque inicial que motivou tantos cliques instantâneos, o mundo voltou à sua rotina. E passados cinco anos desde esta tragédia, o barco que leva agora o nome desse menino vagueia por estes dias pelo Mediterrâneo em busca de um porto que acolha 64 pessoas, que correm o risco de perecer no mar perante a indiferença generalizada. Neste mar imenso o Alan Kurdi navega desesperado mas determinado na sua honrosa missão. Em terra de cegos este navio é rei. E a sua triste sina, navegando sem rumo, sem ter quem abrace o destino de um punhado de pessoas, sem um pingo de solidariedade, deveria encher-nos de vergonha.

Carlos Tomé Sousa