LFU – LISBON FREEDOM UNIT “Praise of our folly”


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Luís Lopes – electric guitar
Rodrigo Amado – tenor sax (left)
Bruno Parrinha – soprano & clarinet (center)
Pedro Sousa – tenor sax (right)
Rodrigo Pinheiro – piano & rhodes
Ricardo jacinto – cello
Hernâni Faustino – double bass
Pedro Lopes – Turntables & electronics
Gabriel Ferrandini – drums & percussion

cd tracks:

. Praise I
. Praise II
. Praise III
. Praise IV

release information:

All music by LFU
Recorded November 4th & 5th 2015 by Joaquim Monte at Namouche Studio, Lisbon;
Mixed by Luís Lopes at home, July 2017

Mastered by Tó Pinheiro, September 12th
Produced by Luis Lopes
Executive production Trem Azul
Cover photo by Nuno Martins

Liner Notes by Guy Peters
Design by Travassos
Very special Thanks to Joaquim Monte for all the great and hard work and investment.

liner notes by Guy Peters

When Luís Lopes’ Lisbon Freedom Unit performed its first two concerts, they were filled with ambiguity, tension and some madness. During their ‘Praise Of Our Folly’, the nonet set out for undiscovered territory, embracing the folly that Desiderius Erasmus so cunningly described five centuries ago. Two nights also, with a cast of musicians that appealed to the imagination of anyone who has invested some time in exploring Lisbon’s thriving free music scene.

The first night at Lisbon’s Galeria Zé dos Bois (better known as ZdB) was filled to the brim with sonic density and a ferocious energy, attuned to these disorientating times, while the second night at SMUP, in nearby Parede, took a diverging approach. It was a more disciplined, introverted and tantalizing outcome, trading in the previous night’s exuberant free-for-all for a mesmerizing trajectory with a sustained arch. As is often the case, multiple experiences not only offer in-depth understanding. They also made you rethink what you (thought you) had heard.

With a line-up like this, the potential is never a result of simple mathematics. Lopes chose musicians he had been familiar with for a long time, yet… it was also an unlikely combination of determined personalities and strong characters. His intention? Creating a provocative environment in which their independent, original minds could interact, inspire and eventually come to a ‘crazy’ agreement. Or not. There was Rodrigo Amado, a member of his Humanization Quartet and a crucial collaborator. Ricardo Jacinto and José Bruno Parrinha recorded an album with the guitarist earlier in 2015 (Garden) that displayed a daunting and eccentric language. Then there was the Red Trio (Hernâni Faustino, Rodrigo Pinheiro, Gabriel Ferrandini), one of the most prominent units from Portugal. And finally two other youngsters – Pedro Sousa and Pedro Lopes – who performed as EITR.

Whereas the concerts represented two radically different temperaments and methods, these studio recordings, culled from four hours of material, touch upon both approaches, combining the potential for volcanic eruptions of energy with a sense of restraint. Throughout these four studies in group improvisation, there is a tension at work that even during its most abstract, non-idiomatic moments retains an almost physical immediacy. It is to be found in the way that the less familiar voices are being paired, the individual layers are continually being transformed, and in the way the group as a whole moves like one living organism.

The stylistic/temperamental range is huge, as the music is continually in a shape-shifting process, moving from complex, Byzantine masses of sound, to jagged tangles of pointillist ideas or thick clouds of expressionist noise music. Like on the classic recordings from decades ago, it is a challenge to identify the reed and string musicians and notice how they switch roles or add individual colors. Ferrandini is a force of nature, a dark poet of sound and rhythm, Pinheiro surely is one of the thoughtful backbones of the scene, and Luís Lopes’ approach to the guitar remains stubbornly non-conventional, while his attitude as a leader is one of near-selflessness. Turntablist Pedro Lopes is a brilliant wild card. He is not the resident DJ adding aural cosmetics, but a stunningly inventive participant; a second percussionist and sound wizard at the same time.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of this album, is its abundant, unpredictable richness. The depth of its interactional discourse, the result of years of crafting and honing skills, has reached a level where you constantly find yourself in that crucial zone between thought and expression. It is a lifetime condensed into moments of iridescent brilliance.

Guy Peters, Geraardsbergen, February 28th 2018

press release:

The first avant-gardes of the 20th century began a special interiorization of aspects coming from the creativity of children, of the then-called “savages” and of the demented, and that interest explains much of the Western artistic evolution until today. The improvising co-operative Lisbon Freedom Unit assume that legacy in its musical practice and in the title of this record, refering it to the classic “In Praise of Folly”, written by the Renascentist scholar Desiderius Erasmus. Without a leader, this ensemble of nine reunites some of the most distinguished musicians of the Lisbon free jazz and free music circles. Mixed here are the members of Red Trio (Rodrigo Pinheiro, Hernâni Faustino and Gabriel Ferrandini), of Garden (José Bruno Parrinha, Ricardo Jacinto, Luís Lopes) and of the duo Eitr (Pedro Sousa and Pedro Lopes), and also 2/3 of the Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio (Amado, Ferrandini) and 2/4 of the Luís Lopes Humanization 4tet (Lopes and Amado). Having all of them in the same band it seems is in itself crazy, but the only chaos you’ll hear is totally organized: if nobody follows a sacrament it’s because only folly can bring us close to God, as Erasmus used to say.