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Friday, March 18, 2022

Almeida, Gibson, Melo Alves, Trilla, Vicente - Dog Star (Spontaneous Music Tribune, 2021) ****½

By Stef Gijssels

Some albums are memorable simply because of their singular approach to music. That is the case with this stunning album in the Polish "Spontaneous Music Tribune Series" which highlights new music from Spain and Portugal. 

The "Dog Star" Ensemble consists of Gonçalo Almeida on double bass, Yedo Gibson on soprano, alto and tenor saxophones, Luis Vicente on trumpet and the double percussion of Pedro Melo Alves and Vasco Trilla. In fact, Luis Vicente, Almeida and Melo Alves had just finished recording Vicente's "Chanting In The Name Of", when they met in January 2021 Gibson and Trilla in Portugal, and decided to profit from the occasion for some impromptu recording. Since there is no real leadership in this context, the names were put on the album in alphabetical order. 

The music is raw, visceral, brutal even. Driven by Almeida's bass and the two drumkits the music unfolds slowly, organically, with measured, well-paced and deep interaction among the five likeminded instruments, finding their common movement and reinforcing each other's voice and power, until the sound becomes like a tropical storm, a gale, or a deep ocean swell of relentless one-directional force. There are no real structural elements, or themes or even phrases to be discerned, yet the music follows its own logic, its own flow, dense, energetic and intense. Even on the slower or quieter pieces, as on the third track, the sound of Almeida's bowed bass sets a dark and eery context for the other instruments to add little sonic bits, growing together as it evolves, picking up momentum when Almeida switches to heavy plucked bass. There is no real soloing to speak of, but a strong collective sound that will make you want to listen to it again and again. 

I assume that the "Dog Star" in the title refers to Sirius, or Alpha Canis Majoris in Latin, the brightest star in the night sky, but it's hard to imagine the music to reflect a space journey, because it's too rough and unplanned for this. 

Listen and download from Bandcamp.


Mulot said...

Great album indeed!

The group results of the fusion of the Luís Vicente Trio (as seen last year on Clean Feed) and of L3 (also published by Multikulti Project, in 2018.) One trio plus another trio equals a quintet.

Richard said...

Yeah, this one is fantastic, in my Top 5 of 2021. That Multikulti series is phenomenal. I predict I'll wind up buying all of them.

Chris said...

Fantastic album. Just listened to it for the first time, and loved how it slowly built and unfolded.