Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

HUGO CARVALHAIS – Nebulosa (CF 201)
While the prologue to bassist/composer Carvalhais’ Nebulosa is delineated by strong rhythmic accents made less explicable by the premeditated displacement of pauses, we’re soon testimonies of the jeopardizing of that slanted solidity, especially caused by keyboardist Gabriel Pinto’s use of synthetic sounds linking the music to the “progressive” regions of the 70s (Keith Emerson would probably smile at those Moog reproductions). Guest saxophonist Tim Berne mostly acts according to the norms of polite behaviour, still ready to perforate the mix and roughen up things when the call arrives; in any case he fits in without flinching, a genuine fourth member. The record shows sophistication enhanced by noir-ish mystery, also benefitting from the large quantity of living space in which the performers explicate their inspiration. The instrumental hues are well distributed, the collective energy perceived as very balanced, no surplus of anything. When fire appears, the group controls and channels it with appreciable class. In “North” a hint of ECM mannerism does appear, luckily not of the bothersome kind. The immediately subsequent “Nebulosa Part V” is instead characterized by a sort of cosmic swing – dexterous wrists courtesy of drummer Mário Costa – defining the tasteful oddness of this project even further. And the conclusive “Redemption” is austerely superb. Keep an attentive eye on this Portuguese artist.

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