Wednesday, March 13, 2013

LAMA - Oneiros [Clean Feed]

Susana Santos Silva - trumpet, electronics
Goncalo Almeida - double bass, effects and loops
Greg Smith - drums

Clean Feed 2012

Although 2/3 of the LAMA trio is portugese the band actually was created in Rotterdam, where Susana Santos Silva and Goncalo Almeida were studying at the jazz department of the city conseravatory. The music this trumpet trio proposes is somewhere between what's free and mainstream in jazz, the mixture nicely spiced up with an intelligent use of electronics. One can easily fall in love with the "Oneiros". 

The title track is a delicate ballad which glides elegantly as bass and trumpet state the melody in unisono, along spare, steady toms drumming.  "Alguidar" that starts the cd could be divided into different parts, between dark suspense and light, between mysterious tones and melodies, that the track shifts back and forth to seamlessly. "Ouverture for Penguins" brings a surprising mix od noir atmosphere (enhanced by the disturbed echoes flying around) and strong groove, with jamming trumpet solo. While the melodies are sharp and the playing gives them enough bite, the distortion, fx effects, echoes blurr it somehow on the edge, resulting in a more misty tones.

Goncalo Almeida is responsible for all but two compositions on the album, Greg Smith wrote a a dynamic "Dr. No" which remings you of action movies, and Susana Santos Silva the tune "My Fucking Thesis" where electrified trumpet sounds rides with rock solid drum'n'bass charge. 

The albums is cohesive, the strong tunes share the decisive grooves, catchy tunes as well as immaginative arrangaments. I feel I've rarely heard a trio album where such attention to a complete arrangement was present. The three instruments always fall into precise spot, where they shoud be, might it be a single touch of the drum. Each piece is like a precious music box, carefully crafted. "Melodia Minuscula" charms you into meditataion with warm and simple melody based on gentle touch of strings and most modest percussion touches. All three players deserves a lot of credit for the entire album but the lyrical bass solo in this piece feels really heartwarming.

The LAMA's music balances intelligently between moments of dramatical and comical, earthy and dreamy and "The chimp who taught men how to cry" exemplifies that with a jumpy, cartoon-like intro that fuses into dramatic tones that get darker and madder with groovy crescendo. As the tension breaks suddenly the cartonish theme returns. The slow, spacious and psychodelic "Tarantino" that ends the cd brings to mind the music of Cuong Vu

"Oneiros" presents some great playing but most of all some brilliant writing. The compositions are tunefull, rich, filled with surprising melodic twists and turns, witty and insightfull. Most satisfying listen on many levels LAMA "Oneiros" comes most definitely recommended.

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