Saturday, March 21, 2015

Vicente/Marajamaki - Opacity


Luis Vicente - Trumpet
Jari Marajamaki - Electronics
Pedro Madaleno - Guitar on track 01
Marcelo dos Reis - Guitar on track 02
Miguel Mira - Cello on track 03
Valentin Ceccaldi - Cello on tracks 04, 06, 07

Opacity represents a change of pace from what I’ve heard of Portuguese trumpeter Luis Vicente, who has emerged over the past couple of years as a strong player, with Clocks and Clouds from 2014 one example that has garnered very positive reviews, including one from this blog. For this record Vicente teams up for the second time with Finland-born electronics artist Jari Marjamaki, the two having collaborated previously on Alternate Translations (Mimi Records, 2013). Contributions from either guitar or cello are also featured on six of the seven tracks.

The combination of trumpet with electronic textures immediately brings to mind those who have explored this area before, particularly Jon Hassell and Nils Petter Molvaer. Parts of Opacity have that Hassell/Molvaer/Ambient vibe you’d expect, but overall Vicente and Marjamaki do a good job subverting the genre by adding grit via the electronics and especially Vicente’s trumpet. It’s a tribute to the strength of Vicente’s conception that he for the most part avoids the two ditches that line this road: sounding bland and generic on the one hand, or like a straight-up Miles clone on the other.

Both musicians throw in enough variations in texture, tempo and rhythm to keep things interesting. Overall, Opacity conjures up frozen, forbidding landscapes, perfect for listening on a day in which winter will not yet give up its grip to spring.