Universo Inverso by Kiko Loureiro – reviewed by Chris Mann


Brazilian guitarist and composer Kiko began his musical studies at age 11.  He was only 19 years old when, after years of gigging with local bands in São Paulo, he was invited to join the newly-formed rock band Angra.  The success of their debut album “Angels Cry” in 1993 opened many new markets to the band, such as Europe and Japan.  During his live work with Angra, Kiko has always found time to share his knowledge by giving guitar clinics and workshops around the world. 

His debut solo album “No Gravity” had a worldwide release in 2005, followed in 2006 by the release of Kiko’s second solo CD “Universo Inverso”.  This second solo album takes an entirely different direction from the first one. Kiko is joined by three respected Brazilian and Cuban musicians for a Latin jazz-oriented set.


Whereas this new direction may have surprised some of Angra’s diehard metal fans, it has received positive critical acclaim worldwide.  It’s certainly a coup for Vernon Neilly’s Boosweet Records to have issued this in the USA in 2007.


From the opening bars of the energetic Feijão de Corda, the sound of Loureiro’s guitar is powerful and electric – after repeated hearings, I hear this in my head and can’t resist singing it.  As this song progresses, I can hear amazing technique and a great sense of humour.  Yaniel Mato’s piano solo cuts right across the rhythm but never sounds out of place or less than satisfying. Ojos Verdes kicks off in a very grand Al Di Meola style and mellows into an offbeat ¾ verse section. The comparison with Al Di Meola is unavoidable because of the powerful tone, the “light-and-shade” and the guitar/piano interplay. I also hear a technique called – musos correct me here – sweep-picking. Dazzling!


The intro to Havana is muscular but when the bass and drums lighten up you’ve got a flying Latin-flavoured song that really draws you in. There’s some great string-bending here for you axe-fans.  I love the light cymbal work on much of this song.  Such energy has to be balanced out and the piano intro to the lovely Anastácia promises a soothing, melodic song. That’s just what you get. There is light and shade but the contrast is not as striking as it is in some songs on the album.


I love the clever Monday Mourning title. This Latin-tinged ballad moves beautifully and there is a heavy hint of blues in there. This is a great ensemble piece – the bass, drums and piano do just enough to support that lovely jazzy guitar (which sounds like a semi-acoustic) and the guitar itself isn’t working too hard on this gorgeous, mellow tune. The rhythm of Arcos de Lapa is again very samba-influenced and Loureiro’s wild and passionate guitar sits surprisingly well over the top. The sound of this guitar in the midrange is very sexy and Al Di Meola fans (like me) should just love this!


Samba de Elisa is more sombre than the title suggests and here that semi-acoustic tone lends the right warmth. By this point, the range of guitar styles you’re hearing should really have impressed you. On this song there is the type of “classic” jazz sound that Norman Brown fans (like me) go nuts for. Time for bassman Carlinhos Noronha to step forward. Anyone who’s ever tried to copy Jeff Berlin, Joe Hubbard or Jimmy Haslip will realise what bass talent opens Camino a Casa. Noronha’s bass is joined by blazing guitar, staccato piano and some great snare work from Cuca Teixeira that bears comparison with the astounding Dave Weckl. This is right up there – passionate, technical and spine-tingling.


Realidade Paralela starts off as a solo guitar piece then develops into a dreamy number. The jazz-rock intensity has dropped again and we start to appreciate how gifted Kiko Loureiro is as a songwriter. It’s easy to imagine other players covering this song in the future.  This must be breathtaking if he plays it live. The dark piano intro to the wistful Recuerdos ushers in the only song on the CD to feature acoustic guitar. Throughout the song these two instruments share the limelight. Lovers of Earl Klugh’s less funky work (like me) will enjoy this – and love the dark streak of “saudade” that runs through it. It closes an album of extraordinary contrasts with great style.


I hope that this CD is heard by a varied audience because Kiko Loureiro’s music has the ability to please lots of people.  “Universo Inverso” is fantastic because Loureiro – who is already being spoken of as a “guitar God” – is playing with us. I’ve just been listening to clips from “No Gravity” and I can honestly say I’ve never heard a guitarist playing straight-out rock who blew me away like that! That includes Jan Akkerman and Eddie Van Halen, both of whom I admire immensely.


But, we’re jazz fans aren’t we and when this 34-year old virtuoso turns his hand to jazz and jazz-rock it is something special, something we can’t ignore.  I really have been singing the rockier parts of this album and that’s rare.  Just before I got this CD to review, I bought “Casino” by Al Di Meola.  I first heard it and was astonished by it almost 30 years ago in France. I hope and believe that a student of French will look through a friend’s music collection in 2035, play this in whatever form it can then be played and go “wow!”





Boosweet Records B0009   Producer – Kiko Loureiro