Oblique Mirrors, a release from the quartet of Per Gärdin, Rodrigo Pinheiro, Marco Franco and Travassos, is free jazz-inflected improvisation in an unorthodox format. The unorthodoxy consists in the group’s configuration: Gärdin’s alto and soprano saxophones, which are largely responsible for the music’s free jazz tincture, are at the forefront, but rather than being supported by a rhythm section per se, they are accompanied by the more unconventional combination of piano (Pinheiro), drums and percussion (Franco) and electronics (Travasso).
The music itself moves in and out of free jazz territory, alluding as well to late 20th century modernism and contemporary electroacoustic experimentalism. A track like focal point, the opening piece, centers on the kind of line-and-energy playing associated with free jazz by presenting a hyperkinetic polyphony dominated by soprano sax. By contrast the more introverted and texturally-focused tracks refraction and sphere turn attention to a soundscape of subtle colors and microsounds marked by Pinheiro’s fine-grained, inside-the-piano work and Travassos’ restrained electronics. The closing track, aperture, returns to the free jazz side of things in a collision of soprano sax and percussion augmented by percussion-like metallic timbres from piano and electronics.