Portuguese drummer Gabriel Ferrandini seeks out a different path on Volúpias. He puts aside the bustling asymmetric momentum, familiar from his tenure in the celebrated RED Trio and with saxophonist Rodrigo Amado's Motion Trio, to explore compositional realms. In 2016 he started his new approach with an artistic residency in the prestigious ZDB venue, where he was joined by bassist Hernâni Faustino (from the Red Trio) and tenor saxophonist Pedro Sousa (his partner in the punning PeterGabriel duo). The result is a 39-minute album containing nine original pieces, two by fellow countryman electronic musician Ondness, the rest by Ferrandini, all titled after Lisbon streets.
Ferrandini remains a consummate percussionist, whether conjuring sudden squalls from thrillingly unexpected timbres or less often laying down a non-repeating pulse. Sousa, whose capabilities can be heard to the full on Casa Futuro (Clean Feed, 2015) largely exercises restraint, exhaling concise phrases in the lowest registers of his horn, while Faustino anchors with muscular counterpoint. They all combine in a group music which allows relatively few solo opportunities. Instead the focus is mainly on the compositions, or perhaps concepts would be a better way of putting it, as any melodic content is sketched to the point of abstraction.
Most of the cuts are slow-paced and quite short, sounding atmospheric and spacious, mining a narrow emotional seam, featuring breathy saxophone and intermittent spurts of pizzicato bass and percussion. At best as on "Rua Nova da Piedade," they smolder then briefly flare before subsiding once again. Only three cuts weigh in much over four minutes and they are among the highlights. On "Rua João Pereira da Rosa" spirited interchanges between bass and tenor slowly develop over an unfurling percussive carpet. Then on "Travessa dos Fiéis de Deus" Sousa recalls Evan Parker with his multiphonics, a comparison that comes even more strongly to mind due to his circular-breathed high note stretches on the concluding "Rua da Barroca." At ten minutes it's the longest and most fully realized track, suggesting the rich drama the group might generate if stretching out further.
Rua Nova da Piedade; Travessa de São José; Rua de São Marçal; Rua da Academia das Ciências; Rua de O Século; Rua João Pereira da Rosa; Rua dos Caetanos; Travessa dos Fiéis de Deus; Rua da Barroca.
Gabriel Ferrandini: drums and percussion; Hernâni Faustino: double bass; Pedro Sousa: tenor saxophone.