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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Paula Shocron and Pablo Diaz - Algo en un Espacio Vacio (Nendo Dango, 2021) ****

Algo en un Espacio Vacio, or 'something in an empty space', is right on. There is something that pianist Paula Shocron and drummer Pablo Diaz, musicians and physical movement teachers from Buenos Aires know about how to fill a space and on Algo en un Espacio Vacio they use light brushstrokes when applying their magic. Their medium - piano and drums, or cello and percussion, with intermittent vocals, could fill-in quite a bit, but they work sparingly here.

The pair have collaborated extensively and have made many recordings with other musicians, but this is their first official duo album, and it is out on their label Nendo Dango. Actually, there is one more artist involved with this recording, Veronica Trigo, who collaborates not musically but artistically with a series of engaging watercolors that have been pressed in an accompanying booklet. The images Trigo (who is also a classically trained pianist) has contributed are sumptuously minimalist expressions of the music translated by the motion of the brush. An example can be seen above on the album's cover.

In the liner notes, bassist William Parker writes "the sounds are like an ocean in a painting ... internal rhythms and burst open to field of blue or green." Accept the hacked quote and poetic grammar and let the sound of the language convey the motion that is captured in many forms on Algo en un Espacio Vacio. The motion is more important than the notes, and like on the first track 'Obertura', where Diaz's asymmetrical pulse is accentuated lightly and spaciously with bursts of tonal color from Shocron's keyboard. Blocky tonal clusters follow, leading to a pensive melody that Diaz accentuates with cluttery percussion. 'Alterna', the second track, introduces Shocron on cello and, I believe, Diaz contorting a drum into a wind instrument. With bowed, elongated tones, the track becomes an ornate semi-drone. Throughout the recording the roles of the instrument are interchangable, for example on 'Ritmo', which is full of motion, percussive use of the cello and other small implements provide a somewhat ritualistic underlayment which Shocron vocalizes rhythmically over. The less shamanic sounding closing track 'Forma' finds Shocron back on prepared piano, while Diaz quietly plays an array of drums and percussion. The vocalizations on this final track are actually a bit distracting as the duo locks into a fairly unusual and hypnotic groove.

With bassist Germán Lamonega (see below), Shocron and Diaz make up two thirds of the SLD trio (which has a new release as well, see En vivo en Estudio Libres), and they have been rapidly adding local and international collaborations to their Nendo Dango portfolio; however, at the heart of it is the movements, large and small, of the duo.

German Lamonega - MoNoCRoMo (Nendo Dengo, 2020) ****

Bassist German Lamonega has a recent solo recording that is quite worth a mention. Much like his companions in the SLD Trio, he sketches out his own language using the upright bass on MoNoCRoMo. Percussive playing on the track 'Prisma' leads to spacious and pensive plucking on the follow up 'MoNoForMa', which picks up in motion and fills in with juicy doublestops. 'Giger' is a pensive drone that plays with sonic contrasts, and 'Butoh' is its polar opposite: a slippery tune that explores sounds from all over the fingerboard. MoNoCRoMo is a captivating solo bass recording, and one of many other exploratory works to be found in the rapidly expanding Nendo Dango-verse.