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Monday, July 25, 2016

Luis Lopes – Love Song (Shhpuma, 2016) ***1/2

By Chris Haines

Released on Clean Feed’s sister label Shhpuma, this collection of solo improvisations shows a more intimate side of Luis Lopes’ guitar playing.  Better known for his work within his groups the Humanization 4tet and Lisbon-Berlin Trio, apparently after a concert the guitarist’s music was criticised by a female fan for being too ‘masculine’.  Whether this remark was the catalyst for this reflective approach found on Love Song or just a candid soundbite, it nevertheless illustrates the difference in approach from the complex, dense and knotty phrases that he wields so expertly within the aforementioned groups.

Although this set of solo pieces shares the concept of love throughout, what it gives us are the more punishing aspects of this emotional web.  The reflective nature of these pieces explores the pain of love, with titles such as “Ever Eternal Loneliness” and “The Sadness Of The Inevitable End” highlighting the way, if it needed it.  The nine pieces are all played on electric guitar using a fairly clean sound but with an edge.  Ranging from two to nine minutes a piece the mood and style has a consistency of melancholy and contemplative desire that hangs like a cloak over the whole proceedings.  Far from the happy bubblegum pop or schmaltzy ballads of many musical interpretations on this favourite of themes, Luis Lopes tries to delineate the complexity of the interpersonal attraction between people and almost creates an essay on the mixture feelings that it brings to bear for us.

This is certainly something different in his canon of works, thus far, and it will be interesting to see if he continues to develop this side of his playing further, maybe incorporating it more into some of his already existing projects.  Having stepped away from the machinery of these, Luis Lopes has examined his feelings in the moment and laid them bare for all to hear.