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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Emanuele Maniscalco / Francesco Bigoni / Mark Solborg - FOIL (Ilk Music, 2018) ****

By Eyal Hareuveni

The Copenhagen-based trio of Italian pianist Emanuele Maniscalco and reeds player Francesco Bigoni and Danish (but with deep Argentinian roots) guitarist Mark Solborg calls itself a “potentially-folk project”. This trio has developed a chamber interplay that allows all the three musicians to react instantly and freely to each other and create beautiful songs that reflect their strong personal voices. You can always trace the constant, circular-conversational attitude, a seamless flow of sounds and delicate melodic motifs, that is the essential mode of this trio.

The trio's self-titled album (Ilk Music, 2015) already established the poetic and highly melodic attitude of this trio, contrasted by subtle textures, preparations and microtonality. The sophomore album of the trio, FOIL, following many European performances, perfects its unique architecture of sounds and melodies. FOIL recorded at the beautiful and one of the best preserved old renaissance opera house, Teatro Grande in Brescia, Italy (the hometown of Maniscalco).

The 11 short pieces are original compositions from all three musicians, but there is a very thin line between the compositional ideas and the improvised output or between modern jazz elements, free-improv strategies and contemporary music language. The trio plays these pieces as an intimate, three-voices choir that sings folk-like, melodic motifs as contemplative hymns, with great attention to detail and dynamics, making full usage of the great acoustics of the recording space.

But Maniscalco, Bigoni and Solborg do not attempt to adopt a reverent-spiritual language. They spice these pieces with some dirt, raw sounds that may sound out of place in the patient flow and architecture of sounds. The resonating guitar sounds of Solborg on Maniscalco’s “May Be Simple,” corresponding with the hall’s acoustics, and Bigoni’s tensed breathing on the same piece, or Maniscalco ethereal, sparse playing on the title-piece, may sound at first as interfering with the subtle, organic flow. But the investigative-conversational attitude of this trio cherish these delicate, raw interferences as an integral part of its intricate palette of colors and shades, another motif that enhances its nuanced, fertile landscapes. Eventually, the trio embraces and integrates these raw sounds into its open, architectural playground.

Solborg’s two-part “Voices From The Ground” is the most complex piece here. This composition stresses the distinct voices of Maniscalco, Bigoni and Solborg, now sketching a tensed and distant, confrontational dialogue, an exception within the set of meditative textures.