Bearing the name of a short book on the Anglican Church in Lisbon, Per Gärdin, Pedro Lopes & Rodrigo Pinheiro’s History of the Lisbon Chaplaincy was, appropriately enough, recorded in St. George’s Church in Lisbon in September, 2013. St. George’s figures centrally in the book, but undoubtedly it was chosen as a recording site not for its history, but for its Fincham pipe organ, played by Pinheiro. Throughout much of the long improvisation that makes up the recording, the organ acts as a kind of sonic anchor, whether as a relatively immobile foundation for Gärdin’s restless soprano and alto saxophone lines, or as a kind of eddying current running underneath the reeds and Lopes’s percussion and turntables. The music’s dramatic development largely hinges on the tension between Gärdin’s energetic expressionism and Lopes and Pinheiro’s more texturally-directed sounds; crucially, the trio plays effectively with the church’s acoustics, carefully crafting sound densities from variable-length phrases and subtly-balanced ensemble passages.
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.