I've had this album on heavy rotation lately, and it's too divine not to share.
But first, a preamble: I was introduced to Jorge Ben's music by a work colleague during my trip to Brazil two years ago. He's considered a national treasure there (often referred to "BenJor" or by his later name modification, Jorge Ben Jor), and is beloved for his fusion of bossa nova, samba, and rock. I confess that while I liked the early samba album of his that I procured there, it's not something I found myself playing too often once I was back home for whatever reason.
Fast forward to my recent discovery of his 1970s work, in particular this 1974 album, A Tábua De Esmeralda. For you non-Portuguese speakers out there, the title translates to "The Emerald Tablet," and the music therein is chock full of references to alchemy, Nicolas Flamel, Paracelsus, and the one and only Hermes Trismegistus himself. In fact, one of the last tracks, "Hermes Trismegisto e sua celeste tábua de esmeralda" has the words of the Emerald Tablet as its lyrics set to groovy song.
Sonically, it's an eclectic, joyful album, with beautiful arrangements and irresistible rhythms. It sounds like summer. But the esoteric content has boosted this into my firmament of All-Time Favorite Things.
If you're so intrigued, you can read the lyrics translated into English and interpreted at the Brazil 70 Translation Project.
(Many thanks to Gabriel Stefano for the intro to Jorge Ben, and to Lynda Barry for the reminder and spotlight on this phase of his oeuvre).