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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Clean Feed Tribute: Shhpuma Too!

Our celebration of Clean Feed records comes to a close today with a focus on Shhpuma Records, Clean Feed's sister label.

Stuart Broomer:

Luís Lopes - Love Song: Post Ruins (Shhpuma, 2019)

Luís Lopes might be the artist appearing most frequently on Clean Feed and the sister Shhpuma label. He’s an intensely engaged guitarist who covers a range of approaches with many collaborators. His bands can range from free funk (Humanization 4-tet) to hard-edged composition (Lisbon Berlin Quartet) to large ensembles, always embodying intensity, a sense of freedom and commitment that can jolt. Even his solo music covers a remarkable range, from the noise solos of Lisbon Paris (Stereo Noise Solo) to the subtle nylon-string acoustic play of Love Song, Emmentes. Love Song: Post Ruins stands out, for this writer, as one of the most original and sustained – in every sense -- solo guitar works I’ve heard, his usual thin-line archtop lightly amplified, adding just a certain brightness and sustain to its sonic character. Lopes describes it as a nocturne: “To listen alone. somewhere between after 1 o’clock in the morning and 1 hour before sunrise."

It's quietly involving from start to finish, a wonder of psychological states and relations: always considered, yet spontaneous; always continuous, yet surprising, essaying a changing mood at once reflective and tinged with revelation. It’s sufficiently intimate to suggest a man talking to a guitar, or perhaps, more accurately, a guitar talking—reflecting, consoling, exploring moods, shifting positions, always constructing a space as alive to revelation as consolation or reconciliation. There are moments when semi-tones will gather in tense conclave; others when a bright single tone will repeatedly ring out until it eventually gathers a reaction, whether supportive or questioning, the guitar echoing the sustained concord or close-knit caution. Harmonics can ring out like a choir.

It's a sustained work (37:28) of late-night, contemplative, wondrous guitar music, sui generis, but with a certain quality of elemental kinship – nothing you could pin down to harmony or methodology, country of origin or astrology chart – to certain performances of the highest order, Grant Green’s Idle Moments or Derek Bailey’s Ballads.