Saturday, January 2, 2021

João Lencastre - No Gravity (s/r, 2020) ****

By Paul Acquaro

No Gravity is a collaboration between Lisbon based drummer João Lencastre, RED Trio pianist Rodrigo Pinheiro, and bassist João Hasselberg. The group spins shimmery web of electro-acoustic sound that at times seems impossibly delicate and other times deadly effective.

The opening track, 'First Encounter', begins with Pinheiro's gently dripping notes, slightly dissonant, and somewhat suspenseful. Hasselberg emerges from the misty background, soon joined by gentle splashes from Lencastre's cymbals. This is followed by 'Harnessing Fear' where both the electronics enter the picture and the subtle pops and fizzes become a consistent undercurrent in the music. The track builds in tension through repetitive figures from the piano increase in velocity and the drum with focused vigour. 

The album doesn't really reach its explosive potential  until the half-way mark, instead smaller interactions and musical ideas unfold at a consistent and insistent, and restrained manner. However, when it does, it hits hard. After the stuttering blips of 'Trying to go Unnoticed', 'Slam Dance' begins with an insistent patter of the drums and aggressive distorted bass. When the piano joins there is no warm-up, the music is instantly a rolling wave of motion. 

The remaining four tracks balance the power and tempo well. They continue to explore the sonic overlaps, experience small electric storms, and reach new agitated peaks, like in the penultimate '2020'. The title track, which caps off the recording, is a calm, floating musical entity, capping off this subtly adventurous album.

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