Friday, December 11, 2015

Guitar Week Day 5: Luís Lopes / Slobber Pup

Luís Lopes / Jean-Luc Guionnet – Live At Culturgest (Cleanfeed, 2015) ****

By Paul Acquaro

Live at Culturgest brings together lablemates guitarist Luis Lopes (Humanization 4tet, Lisbon Berlin Trio) and saxophonist Jean-Luc Guionnet (Ames Room, Moon Fish) for a set of vibrant and often noisy duets.

The duo brought their divergent styles together for an electric and eclectic meet-up at the Culturgest in Lisbon in 2011 and a great deal of parallel play ensued. Lopes, whose background is in jazz, rock, punk and blues, and Guionnet whose background is in experimental and musique concrète contrast more than meld, but together they end up in a exciting and often raucous conversation.

The album is comprised of two tracks, starting with the 18 minute Part I which begins slowly, drawn out notes from the sax and hushed polyphonics play out as a cacophony grows from the guitar. The duo hits upon some agreement and then the momentum begins to build. As the time passes, tension, volume and density increase. Distortion on the guitar, fluttering notes and emotive squeaks yield to thickets of tonal clusters and elaborate musical thoughts. The 24 minute Part II also begins in a spacious manner, Lopes providing percussive and sometimes slashing accompaniment to Guionnet's bursts of sound. After building to an fiery climax, the musicians retreat into silence and then the appreciative applause of an enrapt audience. 

I can only agree with Paulo Chagas' liner notes when he writes "art can never be built only to show what everybody already knows." This music is fresh of the moment and previously unthought of sounds, now frozen in time. 

Available at the Downtown Music Gallery.

Slobber Pup - Pole Axe (RareNoiseRecords, 2015) ****

When I wrote about Slobber Pup's debut Aces a while backI noted that the quartet was:
Aggressive, electric and unyielding, it starts off charging at you, a pounding feral beast of organ, guitar, bass and drums. However, beneath the snarl, there is something melodic and rhythmic. This is avant-garde metal jazz at its finest, expertly channeling its energy into the sonic unknown.
On their return, Slobber Pup is comprised of guitarist Joe Morris, organist Jamie Saft, drummer Balazs Pandi, however bassist Trevor Dunn has been replaced with the voluminous and vital saxophone playing of Mats Gustafsson.

The group kicks off with the 30 minute 'Pole of Combustable Memory', and the line-up change is instantly noticeable. Gustafsson doesn't necessarily start off quietly, but he quickly charges ahead with increasing power after each phrase. The rhythm is textural, giving the saxophonist the support and encouragement to really let loose. When the guitar comes to the fore, the tone is distorted, the melodic lines blurring with speed and precision. Pandi is hard hitting, and against the organ's thick tones, he hits in all the right places. Crazy thing is, this all happens within the first 8 minutes. There are other moments of density and intensity that are just as tremendous, however, the overall feeling is more about tension and slowly building swells of intensity. The middle of the next track, 'Bring Me My Desire and Arrows to Shoot', finds Gustafsson delivering epic sweeps of sounds, and the final four minute 'Incendiary Axe' is a fast paced group improvisation and an explosive encore. Damn good!

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