Friday, January 8, 2016

Pedro Sousa, Johan Berthling & Gabriel Ferrandini - Casa Futuro (Clean Feed, 2015) ****½

By Stef

This album missed my top-10-of-the-year list for the simple reason that choices should be made, but it was a close call. Pedro Sousa on saxophone, Johan Bertling on bass, and Gabriel Ferrandini bring us three long improvised pieces, and even if it was the first time they played as a trio, the result is absolutely stunning. The music has a slow, but determined intensity, no, a burning intensity, a heat of passion for sound and deep resonance, performed collectively, without leads or themes or melodies, just slow, penetrating sounds of sax bass drums that will keep you glued to your speakers for the entire length of the three long tracks, that despite the openness stays focused, and despite the inherent slowness, never slackens.

On the second and longest track, the volume increases, as Sousa makes his tenor scream and howl in the most heart-rending way, full of agony and despair, and without losing any of the intensity, the sax takes a step back to leave front stage to the arco bass for short bursts of sound, supported by half-muted blasts from the sax, and screeching cymbals, and when the volume gets reduced almost completely, embracing silence, not one bit of the intensity has disappeared, quite to the contrary, it is even more explicit, more powerful, with the bass moving to quiet repetitive plucking, inviting the sax for a wonderful display of multiphonics, offering shades of human voice inflections and more power, and then strangely the piece completely crumbles in little notes. Beautiful!

The last track, amazingly, keeps the intensity alive like the flame in a furnace, slowly at first, with arco bass and monotonous sounds from the sax, with occasional outbursts of volume, alternated by deep rumbling sounds, percussive clutters and accents but then the fire picks up, and how! without changing the speed, the attack becomes stronger, the ferocity too, moving from intimacy to more expansive playing, ending in energetic interplay.

A truly wonderful album.

6 comments:

  1. Agree Stef, highly focussed: a slow-burner that improves with each listen.

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  2. I’m bit confused… In your review, you mention in particular “second and longest track”, the longest… I checked the album on Apple Music, the lowest piece as listed is the first one, called “Durability” and clocking at 23:37 (ditto on the Amazon listing).

    Nitpicking aside, from a brief and partial listening this does sound like a beautiful album, though. I definitely will have a closer look at this one.

    - Philippe

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  3. This is one I also totally forgot about when doing my year-end list. Really strong work. I've been really impressed with Pedro Sousa since hearing his duo with Hernani Faustino a few years back, and this is of the same caliber.

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  4. Apologies, anonymous! I listened to it digitally, and the order of the tracks changed to alphabetical ...

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  5. Absence of metadata - the bane of my life :-)

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  6. @Stef, no problems, that happens. Thanks for flagging this album, now that I’ve played and listened (!) it with some attention, it is indeed a very nice piece. Added to the wish list.

    @Colin, Yeah, not only yours — mines as well :-(. Metadata for digital music is a mess…

    - Philippe

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