Harmonies is purportedly the next logical step for pianist Joana Gama and electronics denizen Luis Fernandes, following Quest (Shhpuma, 2014), with the addition of cellist Ricardo Jacinto on this album that celebrates classical composer Erik Satie's 150th birthday. Here, the artists cunningly formulate an electro-acoustic soundscape, sketched with Gama's minimalist and Satie inspired themes, offering a principal element, encircled by EFX, avant-chamber, ambient electronica and other aspects or mediums.
Jacinto advises that "Harmonies was a commission from Teatro Maria Matos, to which other theatres in Portugal joined as co-producers. This was a celebration on its own to Satie´s music and work. The project was originally a stage performance where music and scenography were strongly articulated. Later we decided to record the original music that Joana, Luis and myself wrote for this performance."
The album opener "Entrée' en forme de idylle" is a dark electronics piece that reminds me of electronics pioneer Harold Budd's early works, although the free-form component surfaces due to Jacinto's creaky lines and other experimental sojourns atop simple chords and concisely stated melodies. Indeed, the musicians capture the spirit of Satie along with budding undercurrents. Certain movements also mirror Tangerine Dream's oscillating synth excursions, shaded by Gama's tuneful classical excursions and charming ostinato riffs.
"Memories en forme de Vexations" is designed with EFX and cello dialogues that can tantalize your neural network amid some angst, digitized rhythmic sequences and a reverberating chord sequence, where the band toggles between rambunctious and interrogative interplay that is either organic or steely during various intervals. The final piece "Sortie en forme de Panthee" features a lightly clanging and jangling electronics pattern that generates semblances of an ancient tribal ritual fed through Midi components amid Gama's ethereal phrasings and a backwash of Fernandes' sonic treatments. Indeed, it's a contemplative and magnetic mission that produces ample amounts of brain food, equating to a highly engaging viewpoint of Satie's enduring legacy.
Track Listing: Entree en forme de idylle; Edification en forme de Ogives; Piege en forme de
Valse; Memoires en forme de Vexations; Developpement en forme de Harmonies;
Sortie en forme de Panthee.