By Paul Acquaro
Live at Culturgest brings together lablemates guitarist Luis Lopes (Humanization 4tet, Lisbon Berlin Trio) and saxophonist Jean-Luc Guionnet (Ames Room, Moon Fish) for a set of vibrant and often noisy duets.
The duo brought their divergent styles together for an electric and eclectic meet-up at the Culturgest in Lisbon in 2011 and a great deal of parallel play ensued. Lopes, whose background is in jazz, rock, punk and blues, and Guionnet whose background is in experimental and musique concrète contrast more than meld, but together they end up in a exciting and often raucous conversation.
The album is comprised of two tracks, starting with the 18 minute Part I which begins slowly, drawn out notes from the sax and hushed polyphonics play out as a cacophony grows from the guitar. The duo hits upon some agreement and then the momentum begins to build. As the time passes, tension, volume and density increase. Distortion on the guitar, fluttering notes and emotive squeaks yield to thickets of tonal clusters and elaborate musical thoughts. The 24 minute Part II also begins in a spacious manner, Lopes providing percussive and sometimes slashing accompaniment to Guionnet’s bursts of sound. After building to an fiery climax, the musicians retreat into silence and then the appreciative applause of an enrapt audience.
I can only agree with Paulo Chagas’ liner notes when he writes “art can never be built only to show what everybody already knows.” This music is fresh of the moment and previously unthought of sounds, now frozen in time.