Music Review: AOR, Ed Motta (Dwitza Music, 2013)

mottaEd Motta has been recording music for over 25 years and has probably been writing and playing music since he could walk. It’s not a surprising backstory for someone so prolific and musically rounded.

With AOR, Motta pays tribute to a genre of west-coast based progressive rock with soul and jazz elements that was pioneered and perfected by Steely Dan. “Album Oriented Rock” as it became known in the mid-seventies was a radio format embraced by stations eschewing the top 40 formula. Ironically, Motta’s tribute is very much grounded in soul and the precursors to disco, which AOR rejected fiercely in the “Disco Sucks” era.

AOR is a solid album of 9 tracks with lush production, fantastic horn arrangements, and Motta’s soulful vocals. As a finishing touch, Motta makes heavy use of those iconic “Steely Dan chords” and harmonies. The title track in particular, although only 22 seconds in length, immediately plunges the listener into Fagan and Becker’s soundscape.

The copy of the album I have is sung mostly in Motta’s native Portuguese and works well. However, according to this interview on the French site, Funk*U an English version was recorded and Motta himself says the album is more suited to English lyrics. Some clips of the English versions are also available at the above link.

English or Portuguese, the music is undeniably faithful to the AOR sound with Motta’s own injection of funk, soul, and jazz. Motta’s back catalog is just as impressive. He’s described as an artist in the Musica Popular Brasileira genre (MPB). In a way, Motta’s tribute to AOR is particularly humble. Here’s an artist who helped define a genre in his native Brazil, now paying tribute to a genre that emerged and then faded more than 30 years ago.