LFU: Lisbon Freedom Unit

Praise of Our Folly
Clean Feed CF 480 CD

A free-form super session among some of the most accomplished of Lisbon’s Free Music practitioners, this four-track, nonet recording invokes more praise than consideration of folly. Edited from four hours of music recorded at two local clubs, the cast of characters is notable. The conventional rhythm section consists of members of the Red trio: keyboardist Rodrigo Pinheiro, bassist Hernani Faustino and drummer Gabriel Ferrandini. One tenor saxophonist is Rodigo Amada, who has a long history with guitarist Luis Lopes, who has also worked with the likes of Christian Lillinger and Ferrandini. The other tenorist, Pedro Sousa has recorded with Johan Berthling. Clarinetist/saxophonist Bruno Parrinha and cellist Ricardo Jacinto have recorded with Lopes, while electronic manipulator Pedro Lopes has worked with Sousa and Pinheiro.

Establishing the parameters among wave form crackles, piano string stops, horizontal air blowing through the reeds, percussion squeaks, Arco swipes and guitar flanges, the unit doesn’t accede to full energetic intensity until the second track, That massed assault then takes place with the power of an armored tank pushing through a stone fence. By that point hunt-and-pick pianism evolves in counterpoint to drum pitter-patter and tremolo cello slices creates a continuum for frails, fills, plinks and twangs from the guitarist while the three saxophonists launch gobs of stuttering squeaks and cries. Reaching a climax of glissandi snarls and juddering glossolalia, the three reedists separate, with the two lower pitched ones concentrating on honking and Sousa’s soprano providing a sweetened coda. Metronomic keyboard buffeting maintains the ambulatory line throughout the remaining selections, despite volcanic detonations of signal-processed swizzles and radio-signal-like static oscillations, croaking flutter tonguing from the reeds and unceasing stringed instruments’ strumming. The polyphonic exposition is so heightened that a few human screams can be hard among the sonic commotion that finally diminishes so a wispy reed flutter can introduce the final track.

Evolving with nuanced rapier-like thrusts rather than the broadsword-like swats of some earlier passages, the resulting narrative is both slinky and speedy, as reeds move from false-register lowing to triple tonguing, matched by Pinheiro’s kinetic comping at player-piano speeds. As the overlapping pressure subsides, methodical syncopation from the piano, resplendent reed shakes and sul tasto cello elaborations signal a descent to a relaxed finale.

Not only an electrifying Free Music romp, Praise of Our Folly also presents a cast of musical characters who can be researched for future reference.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Praise I 2. Praise II 3. Praise III 4. Praise IV

Personnel: Bruno Parrinha (soprano saxophone, clarinet); Pedro Sousa and Rodrigo Amado (tenor saxophone); Rodrigo Pinheiro (piano, Rhodes); Luis Lopes (guitar); Ricardo Jacinto (cello); Hernani Faustino (bass); Gabriel Ferrandini (drums, percussion); Pedro Lopes (turntables, electronics)