AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: The Attic (Amado / Almeida / Govaert) – Love Ghosts (2022; NoBusiness Records)

Free jazz can be a bit like gambling. Sometimes it works out better than others. But given the right amount of skill and discipline, you can thumb the scale to get the odds tipping more in your favor. The Attic, comprising Rodrigo Amado on sax, Gonçalo Almeida on bass, and Onno Govaert on drums, does not need much in the way of luck as they are overflowing with skill and discipline.

This, their second release, has a title that invokes Albert Ayler but the actual playing at most gives a nod in that general direction. Instead, this is prime-grade freely improvised music. Almeida and Govaert set down densely-packed rhythm tracks that incorporate distinct patterns, but these structures shift, move, and evolve in unpredictable directions. Almeida’s tones are clear, deep, and develop in an exploratory manner. Govaert makes unconventional use of a conventional drum kit, hitting beats and cymbal sequences when you least expect it. High points for these two include the beginning of Encounter with its oddly-timed staggering tempo, as well as the bass solo to open Outer Fields that Govaert eventually accompanies with sparse and disjointed playing.

Amado has a style of his own. He plays a short melodic structure or motif, varies it a bit, briefly pauses, and then moves on. This gives each track an endless supply of novelty with very little repetition. He incorporates staccato bursts and tunefulness, as well as heading slightly outside from time to time. Amado goes on to channel his inner Coltrane on the latter half of the aforementioned Outer Fields, stopping just short of a full blowout.

With four tracks clocking in between 12 and 17 minutes each, Love Ghosts is a must-have for the serious listener. It can be enjoyed on multiple levels – whether taken at face value or deconstructed for deeper understanding. Bravo.

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