It's been four years since the Brazilian singer Cibelle arrived here with an eponymously titled debut under her belt, a shimmering set of songs that mixed Brazilian rhythms, delicate acoustic textures, electronica and idiosyncratic lyrics.
East London is now her home from home, and we're in a café in Dalston to talk about her new album, The Shine of Dried Electric Leaves. Cibelle has moved into an artists' houseshare near by.
Singing at Sao Paulo clubs and parties in the 1990s, Cibelle became the voice of choice for the producer Suba, whose mix of electronica and found sounds reached a peak with his posthumous album, 1999's Sao Paulo Confessions, which introduced her voice to the world.
Cibelle's has been very much an international success rather than a Brazilian export. Indeed, only now is she making an impact in her home country. "I'm going back to play a couple of festivals, but as an international artist," she says, laughing. "And I am. I'm a Dalston girl now."
Recordings for the new album were begun in Sao Paulo with her friend and co-producer Apollo 9 soon after the release of the first album. "I was in Paris and I decided I had to see Apollo straight away, so I rang the record company and went out for a couple of months."
Hers is a loose studio technique picking up on whatever's lying around – lighters, crisps, bottles, sugar cubes and a scarf are employed as instruments on the new album, along with glockenspiels, marimbas, whistles, toy pianos, guitars and all manner of electronics.
"We don't know what we're going to play," she says of each session. "I call them waltzing sessions. Apollo might go to the mellotron. I'll follow him on guitar. I follow him, he follows me."
These methods are extended to the stage, where she uses one mic for straight vocals and another for multiple sound-effects, "playing with whatever percussion I pick up on the way to the gig. Live shows never sound like the album."
Her voice may sing in your ear like that of a Forties siren, but there's a dreamily futuristic feel to her music. Featuring songs by Tom Waits, Caetano Veloso and Tom Jobim alongside 10 originals, The Shine of Electric Dried Leaves pushes the boat out a good deal further than her debut. More radical in its textures, more playful and quixotically assured, and with guest contributions from Seu Jorge and Devendra Banhart, with Mike Lindsay of Tunng and Air's Yann Arnaud joining Cibelle and Apollo 9 on production duties, it's a triumph of lyrical folk pop shot through with twists and turns.
She got together with Banhart in Paris. "I met him on a TV show. It turned out he was a massive Caetano Veloso freak. So we met and rehearsed." Their duet on Veloso's "London London" is a highlight.
In her own songs, language can shift continents in a verse; acoustic guitars blend with layers of found sound, electronica and vocal textures. A chorus of out-of-tune whistles floats over the near-weightless textures of "Minha Neguinha", only to be brought back down again by the wildly original Seu Jorge hollering in the background of the sexy "Arrete la, Menina".
Cibelle has the voice, looks and way with melody that ticks all the boxes, but her penchant for the unexpected – lyrical and musical – puts her in a category of her own. "People ask what music I make, and I say I make collage and sculpture. If there's a pack of crisps lying around... You use whatever's in front of you. Like a child."
'The Shine of Dried Electric Leaves' is on Crammed DiscsReuse content