Clean Feed 352cd
Luís Lopes – electric guitar
Jean-Luc Guionnet – alto sax
1. Part 1
2. Part 2
Recorded live march 13rd, 2011, by Pedro Cruz at Culturgest, Lisbon, Portugal
Mixed and Mastered September 2012 by Joaquim Monte at Namouche Studios, Lisbon, Portugal
Produced by Luis Lopes cover art and design by Travassos. Cover photo by Nuno Martins. Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul
When the concert of this live recording was announced in Lisbon, it was with some surprise. The backgrounds, references and styles of the Portuguese guitarist Luís Lopes and the French alto saxophonist (and church organist, and electro-acoustic manipulator) Jean-Luc Guionnet couldn’t be more different. Lopes is known for his free improvised settings, his noise solo blastings and the open jazz, but tintet with rock, he plays with Humanization 4tet and the Lisbon-Berlin Trio. The roots of this musician from Lisbon are in blues, rock, jazz and, yes, punk. Guionnet goes from the free jazz revival of The Fish to experimental free improv (Propagations, Hubub) and musique concrète (for instance, with Eric La Casa and Seijiro Murayama). Here, we hear them finding uncommon grounds, and sure they manage to do it in a surprising, wonderful way. More than trying to adapt to each other, they create something else with the different materials provided. That’s what to improvise is all about and this is indeed a lesson to follow.
This looks like a chess game inside out, where sometimes we listen to the wind falling loosely in a calm afternoon. We are on the edge of a gray pier and we are led by that lazy anguish of all things understanding. The peace is possible, they tell us, and divine places still exist, but they tell us again about death with the same easiness of looking out to the sea. They know it very well and they create instability and doubts persistently, because that is exactly the role they are intended.
Then they tell us that despair is just a storm of sleepy clowns, but the speech that they offer to our ears is still as strange as all that could be imagined. The result is a plethora of points of departure in this whirlwind of sound ideas and blue skies, where sometimes there are silences and clouds.
Under the guitar feedback, there is light spasms that prevent us from keeping our eyes open. Music is an absolute blindness that is breathed in imaginary colors and where time has lost any hint of democracy. The trend is for the tyranny of noise as if this cosmic environment suddenly smelled like nettles and damp clothes. On the swamps where stirred the breath of old follies, suddenly fled all the scores of the universe and becomes regenerated the whole concept of the absurd. Sounds complicated? Indeed it is, but art can never be built only to show what everybody already knows.
There is a dance of gnomes and stars swing in the backyard, where it intersects quietly the real and the abstract, as if humans were simply deluded wretches. We are still alive? From abyss to abyss we enter this territory of uncertainties and the history’s perverse perfume erodes completely our soul. We listen to ghosts of past heroes – Dolphy, Ayler, Kirk, Cherry, Sharrock, Snakefinger, Bailey – as a procession of cartoons rocking the mothballs. We want water! We want to breathe with relief when the sun comes in the morning and we are ready to walk barefoot towards the west.
This seems the opposite of an exorcism where even sex gets drunk in the heat and breath of imaginary words that feel the old smell of who has nothing to say. Death dissipates on the saxophone’s grim smile and reminds us all the time we waited to get here. There are breezes of melodies turning into loneliness as if we sweep the crumbs after finishing a feast. We’ll know any day the reason for such metamorphoses?
Some reptiles were leaving the floor, unable to bear her sad and ignorant inability to drunkenness. Or simply disillusioned by the lack of “lacy texture” and “electricity parasites” that someone promised. Perhaps the vertigo of the obvious is one of the worst evils of humanity…
What has this to do with the concert I attended that night? No one can answer, but the truth is that Luis and Jean-Luc made us dream and anything else I could say would seems superfluous and superficial. Paulo Chagas