More than the name of a genre of instrumental music, the expression “easy listening” became synonymous with flavorless music that is only used as the musical background for waiting rooms.
The first solo album by Sérgio Diab, the carioca guitar player and producer, is definitely easy to listen to. “Stratoman”‘s sound easily makes its way inside our ears, for it highlights whisteable melodies found within well structured compositions. A instrumental music album without gratuitous virtuosity, made with the listener’s pleasure in mind.
Diab did something that is rare nowadays – an album of instrumental pop music aimed at pleasing the ears of those who appreciate music, not just quenching a lead guitarist’s ego.
“Stratoman” brings back the electric guitar as a “voice” in instrumental pop, following the tradition of Les Paul, Chet Atkins, Carlos Santana and our very own Pepeu Gomes, artists that showed us that guitar solos are not meant to bore anyone.
In this crusade for meaningful yet free of hassle instrumental music, Diab relies on his usual accomplices, Bruno Wanderley (drums) and Wlad Pinto (bass), who were also present in his work as producer and guitar player for Toni Platão. But also recruits some of the country’s best players as special guests.
And these great musicians, each of them a known master of his instrument, give the most revealing of impressions about “Stratoman” when commenting on their experience in being a part of the album:
Marcos Suzano (percussion): “I began to listen and to record the percussion, and the music’s mood, light yet swinging, caught the attention of Malu, my wife. A bottle of wine was opened, the music made you feel like moving, and the general comment about it was that it is a classy album, that presents some musical styles that nowadays are not frequently executed, but that have an instant positive effect on the listener…”
Rick Ferreira (guitar and pedal steel): “When I heard “El Matrero” I was instantly taken to a north-american roadside bar.”
Sacha Amback (keyboard player and arranger): “Stratoman” is an album by a guitar player who lives in Copacabana. Like that neighbourhood, Diab’s music is universal while carrying, at its heart, a brazilian beat”.
The sensitivity of these three craftsmen of modern brazilian music, whose track record include a great deal of the best pop music produced in Brazil since the 70’s, clearly define the characteristics of “Stratoman” – a simple yet sophisticated album, wandering and international, but grounded upon brazilian rhythms and feelings.
Besides the smooth sound Diab produces using his Fender Stratocaster, the secret to the listening pleasure deriving from “Stratoman” lies in a repertoire made of pop songs. All of the tracks within the album are full musical narratives, not only mere themes that are cues to endless solos. Whether in Diab’s inspired compositions, or interpretations of classics such as “Sentimental”, immortalized by Altemar Dutra’s voice, or the timeless “Besame Mucho”, “Stratoman” takes the listener on a journey. From an aerial view of Rio de Janeiro in “Ginga” to a highway in Tennessee in “El Matrero”, passing by the beachside of Havana in “Cuba Libre” until we reach a smoky room in “No Escuro” – at all moments the music found in Sérgio Diab’s debut album presents sounds that bring to mind images and stories.
“Stratoman” is, first of all, an album exceptionally easy to listen to.