Here’s a solo guitar album that matters and makes a point. And here’s a good surprise, marking a turn in the musical career of Portuguese guitarist José Dias (also a researcher of the Contemporary Arts Department at Manchester Metropolitan University), who has been until recently committed to inoculate a sense of modernity in the tradition of jazz. The focus now goes way beyond the post-bop format of his previous records, either because the vocabulary is related to rock (the use of delays and electronic effects reminding us of Bill Frisell) or because the process and the purposes are experimental. Of course, Dias’ personal guitar style is touched by the great historical jazz guitar players, but in “After Silence” he’s more concerned with different elements, such as structure, shape, narrative and soundscaping, than with form, style or genre – the rock element coming only because José Dias adopts the kind of distorted and sustained sounds developed by rock guitarists. But that’s it: he’s not interested in the powerful capacities of the electric guitar, rather in exploring specific resources, an approach that reveals a rare poetic sense of economy. Each piece is the exploration and development of an idea, and Dias does so by contrasting conventional solutions with the unexpected, sometimes reserving to the little details the most important arguments of a composition or improvisation. Rarely such organic kind of music is also so elegant, showing us that the sound of electricity can express a classical feeling of Beauty.
All tracks are improvised pieces by José Dias to excerpts from Le Retour à la Raison (1923), Emak-Bakia (1926), L’Étoile de Mer (1928), and Les Mystères du Château de Dé (1929) by Man Ray
Recorded at Axis Arts Centre, Crewe, UK, April 21st, 2017 by Anton Hunter | Mixed and mastered at STBrown, Portugal, January-March, 2018 | Mixed and mastered by João Hora
Produced by José Dias and João Hora | Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul | Album photography by Andrea Cabrita | Design by Travassos