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Friday, March 11, 2016

Fernando Guiomar & Paulo Chagas - Escape and Return (Zpoluras Archives, 2016) ****1/2

This new record from the acoustic guitar and woodwind duo of Fernando Guiomar and Paulo Chagas is an unexpected stunner. The opening track, 'Escape and Return' begins with a gentle folksy whimsy, but it hardly takes time for the two to dig in, and let loose with a fiery passion. Their paths interlock on the clear strong plucks of the guitar strings and incisive flute work. Tension rises between their notes, dynamics and dissonances, arpeggios and articulations, it's in the empty spaces that so much can happen - and does. 

After the recap of the opener with the track "Obtuse", they switch up instrumentation and "Mordacious" finds Chagas on clarinet, capitalizing on the woodsy sound of the instrument and spitting out bluesy lines over Guiomar's dense rhythmic comping. Mixing in moments of classical, klezmer, and swing, the short tune is a fun affair that sets the stage for melancholic "Sentimental". There is plenty more of course, for example "Nau dos Corvos", whose experimental demeanor runs the gamut from playful to alarming.

Recorded with great attention to clarity and detail, Escape and Return has that certain something that surprises and engages throughout.