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Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Andre Carvalho - Lost in Translation Vol II (Clean Feed, 2023)

By Sean McCarthy

Lost in Translation Vol II is the second outing from New York City based Portuguese bassist Andre Carvalho and his trio with saxophonist José Soares and guitarist André Matos. Continuing where their previous release Lost in Translation (Outside In Music, 2021) left off, the trio is back exploring a brand new set of untranslatable words, which Carvalho calls “an inexhaustible source of inspiration”. The group creates a meditative and atmospheric sound world contrasting Soares’ warm and angular saxophone lines with Matos’ crystalline and often reverb drenched guitar and underpinned Carvalho’s typically unaffected pizzicato and arco upright bass. The opening track “Mencolek” runs the gamut of sonic offerings from the most textural and contemplative soundscapes to fuzzed out bass and distorted guitar intersecting overblown chromaticism from Soares. In one track Carvalho and crew lay their cards on the table showing the listener exactly the parameters of this dynamic chamber ensemble.

Carvalho’s experience scoring films certainly permeates the compositional character of the record as each piece combines clever melodic hooks with long sections of slowly evolving atmospheres, texture with interplay take precedence over harmonic or melodic gravitas.

One could put this album on in the background and enjoy it purely as sonic texture, however this record rewards a close and thorough listening as each piece offers a fertile ground for interweaving improvisations, satisfying counterpunctual interactions and deep explorations of instrumental timbre and combinations.

The trio briefly ventures into the realm of a more conventional jazz ensemble on the fifth track “Gurfa” as the Carvalho settles into a broken walking bass feel under Soares with Matos offering chordal interjections between phrases. This selection manages to add some variety without taking away from the overarching feeling of the recording and, coming in just after the halfway point, provides a breath of fresh air as the group returns to the more meandering approach of the first half of the record.

Lost in Translation Vol II is a worthy successor to Carvalho and companies’ previous effort, bringing the idea and feeling of untranslatable words into the sonic realm with witty and contemplative pieces that are both open yet satisfyingly self-contained. If you’re a fan of the first volume of Lost in Translation or enjoy music that doesn’t rush and rewards close, repeated listens then you won’t want to miss this one.