‘III’, Brazilian prog rock trio Caravela Escarlate’ third album out now

Photo: Caravela Escarlate

The new album was released this Friday January 27th via Bergen based record label Karisma Records. Caravela Escarlate, formed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2011, released their first album ‘Rascunho’ in 2016. The self-titled second album was released in Brazil in 2017 and re-released by Karisma Records in 2019 for worldwide distribution. 

Drawing its inspiration from English, Italian and Brazilian 70s prog rock, but also from traditional and popular Brazilian music, the band creates its own unique sound and atmosphere.

Read the interview with David Paiva and Ronaldo Rodrigues of Caravela Escarlate talking about the new album, their love for 70s and Brazilian culture.

‘III’ is telling us about historical issues in different contexts – Roman Empire, Medieval Times, Pre-Columbian Civilizations, and Age of Discovery. With the opening track, ‘Bússola do Tempo’ (‘Time Compass’), which is the perfect introduction to the whole album, ‘III’ looks like a concept album. Could we say so? And what in that case was your message with this concept?

Ronaldo: Thanks for your kind words. The album was not designed as a concept album, but there are some connections between the songs. Historical issues are frequent in David’s lyrics. It is something intuitive and occurs naturally. The concept related to the name of the band, which was initially designed as a character, represents some contrast between an old thing (a big boat, like the ones used in the Age of Discoveries) and a futuristic thing, like an android. All these things are part of our universe as composers.  

David: The opening track (‘Bússola do Tempo’) represents the idea of III from beginning to end, because history books are like a time machine, indicating and transporting us to different landscapes and contexts of our planet’s history. The main message is that we should know better our history, our ancestor’s history, and the planet’s history to find answers about our origin.

The cover artwork is a painting of the British artist J.M.W.Turner. Why have you chosen this particular piece of art to represent the atmosphere of the whole album?

Ronaldo: It was my idea. The initial plan was to use a painting of some old masters of the XIX century or before. My wife is a graphic designer and we have many art books at home. She introduced me to the work of Turner and his book is one of my favorites in our collection. I showed some paintings to the other guys containing ships and related things (a frequent theme in Turner’s paintings); this one, whose name is Eruption of Vesuvius, was my favorite by far. It represents some powerful and out of control, a great visual impact. I can imagine some connection with our music, or at least with the intensity that we put into our music this time. Fortunately, the other guys also liked it, and we decided to go ahead with this.

Of the seven tracks on the new album, two, ‘Mandala’ and ‘Filtro dos Sonhos’, are instrumental. If we go back to your first album ‘Rascunho’ from 2016, this one was entirely instrumental. In your opinion, what is the main expressive power of instrumental compositions?

Ronaldo: Particularly, instrumental songs are actually the most universal language of music. There is no barrier; only the notes and instruments. However, vocal music contains an additional element that brings more to carry the listener across in a more straightforward way. For instance, in an instrumental song only the title of the song could say something about what the composer has in mind; vocal songs tell more about it. On the other hand, instrumental songs give more freedom for the listener’s interpretation. Instrumental songs, in my opinion, rely on this – the listener can make his/her mind travel anywhere with the song.  

You are working in 70s style progressive rock. What is so fascinating about music from the 70s to you?

Ronaldo: It is hard for me to talk about this because 70s rock is my ‘way of life’ as a musician. A great part of my career is related to this, producing new music under this massive influence. To play prog rock with a 70s vibe is absolutely natural for me because it is the thing that I listened to almost all the time. I can discuss this much time, but to be brief I can say that the most fascinating thing for me is the sonority. I simply love the 70s sonority; my hardest effort in music is to achieve this sonority.

David: Everything is fascinating in the music of the 70s; the care and dedication in how songs were composed, the timbres that were used by each instrument and the messages that were passed on in the lyrics. In most cases, all these things were made in a very simple way!

Your music is definitely influenced by classic English prog rock. But you also mention the strong influence of Italian and Brazilian prog in your sound. What specific nuances of each of these genres have you brought to your music?

Ronaldo: I believe that Italian prog rock has a very melodic, and sometimes dramatic, feel that we share. David and I are also Italian descendants; the passion for Italian 70s prog rock was one of the first common things that we shared when we first met. The Brazilian music influence is more subtle and implicit, but I think that is present in the rhythm, in variations of dynamics and velocity, this kind of fluid thing that turns the drums-bass section very dynamic. For instance, there is some Brazilian regional music influence on the final parts of the bass in ‘Bússola do Tempo’ or the middle section of ‘Sonhos Medievais’.

David: Our Britain prog rock influence is undoubtedly noticeable, even in our posture when performing the songs. The Italian prog rock, however, brings strong details of classical music and vocal intonations between Opera and Rock. Brazilian prog rock has been a very crossover style since the 1970s, mixing rock, regional and Brazilian popular music. It is a blend full of creativity, considering how scarce the resources to play and to record in good quality in the 70s. All things were made with a great dose of passion and intelligence.

Behind Caravela Escarlate’ unique sound is your cultural heritage – the influence of traditional Brazilian music, you are singing in Portuguese… What moments, or maybe atmosphere, of Brazilian culture would you like to be visible to those who listen to your music?

Ronaldo: I think the language is the most remarkable aspect, for sure. We believe that our language contains an interesting sonority. As we all are appreciators of Brazilian music and, David and Elcio have a great background playing these styles, some influence in the way that they play prog rock is organically present; something related to the groove and rhythm. Moreover, the option to sing in Portuguese helps us to spread the word that prog rock is a universal kind of music; we listen to and appreciate prog rock sung in English, Italian, Portuguese, German, French, Swedish, etc.  

David: Despite all the ups and downs that we have been through, I think that my vocals in Portuguese bring the hope of an increasingly rich culture, even if it is not visible or recognized by everyone.

Do you have any tour plans in support of the new album?

David: Yes, we have plans to make a tour to support our album.

Ronaldo: We have this aim, but we have limited means to do this by ourselves, considering the high costs involved. However, we are open to any invites, and it will be a pleasure to play in Europe at the first opportunity. 

Caravela Escarlate
David Paiva – vocal, bass, guitar
Elcio Cáfaro – drums
Ronaldo Rodrigues – keys

Listen to ‘III’ on streaming services or get your copy on vinyl/CD: