All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

16

Fail Better!: Zero Sum

Eyal Hareuveni By

Sign in to view read count
The name of the Portuguese quintet Fail Better! is inspired by Samuel Beckett who advised: "ever tried, ever failed, no matter, try again, fail again, fail better." This saying, together with the one of Miles Davis who claimed that there are no mistakes in music, capture the very essence of the process of free improvisation. And, obviously its real-time sense of experiment and discovery, a walk on a thin line between magic and the sonic equivalent of psychodrama.

This collaborative quintet was born out of pre-existing projects and bands located in Coimbra, Porto and Lisbon. Its musicians—guitarist Marcelo dos Reis, drummer Joao Pais Filipe, alto saxophonist João Guimarães, double bassist José Miguel Pereira and trumpeter Luís Vicente—were recorded live in the Salão Brazil club in Coimbra, in the third of a five concert tour.

The free improvised music is developed patiently and slowly, stressing deep listening and a highly supportive interplay, rich with imaginative ideas and nuances. On the first piece, "Bright Red," the whispering trumpet of Vicente and alto sax of Guimarães set the contemplative, dark tone, before the guitar of dos Reis introduces a bluesy vein. The three continue to develop through game-like dialogues the introspective, bluesy atmosphere on the following "This Is Our Gun." But now with more power and dramatic sense, enjoying the colors that Filipe and Pereira add to this kind of slow-burning interplay.

The quintet dares more on the open-ended "Fallout Breeders" and "The Growing Border," applying the Beckett advice beautifully. All explore different timbral angles, search for new textures, challenging dynamics, and fractured pulses, but none is attached to any of these but to the flow of the music. The sonic searches on "The Growing Border" accumulate into an intense, powerful attack that reaches its climax with a noisy, distorted solo guitar of dos Reis, referencing Sonic Youth guitarists' Thurston Moore and Jim O'Rourke experimental forays. The last, "Challenge/Challenges" begins as a gentle, ritual dance of Guimarães, Vicente and Filipe, that slowly intensifies when des Reis and Pereira join till it culminates with a powerful, dense wall of sounds.

Fail Better! is an impressive ensemble of resourceful and imaginative improvisers.

Track Listing: Bright Red; This Is Our Gun; Fallout Breeders; Dysfunctional Wire; The Growing Border; Challenge/Challenges.

Personnel: João Pais Filipe: drums; João Guimarães: alto saxophone; Marcelo dos Reis: electric guitar; José Miguel Pereira: double bass; Luís Vicente: trumpet.

Title: Zero Sum | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: JACC Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
OWT

OWT

NoBusiness Records
2016

buy
Zero Sum

Zero Sum

JACC Records
2014

buy

Related Articles

Read My Singing Fingers CD/LP/Track Review
My Singing Fingers
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 25, 2018
Read Ain't It Grand? CD/LP/Track Review
Ain't It Grand?
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 25, 2018
Read If Not Now, When? CD/LP/Track Review
If Not Now, When?
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 25, 2018
Read Perfectly Unhappy CD/LP/Track Review
Perfectly Unhappy
by Gareth Thompson
Published: May 25, 2018
Read Sorrows & Triumphs CD/LP/Track Review
Sorrows & Triumphs
by Jerome Wilson
Published: May 25, 2018
Read Half Light CD/LP/Track Review
Half Light
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 24, 2018
Read "Atody Man" CD/LP/Track Review Atody Man
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 27, 2018
Read "Converging Tributaries" CD/LP/Track Review Converging Tributaries
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 5, 2017
Read "Ragas on Saxophone" CD/LP/Track Review Ragas on Saxophone
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 15, 2018
Read "Atody Man" CD/LP/Track Review Atody Man
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 9, 2018
Read "Live In Vienna, December 1st, 2016 (UK Edition)" CD/LP/Track Review Live In Vienna, December 1st, 2016 (UK Edition)
by John Kelman
Published: March 30, 2018
Read "Here Comes the Sun" CD/LP/Track Review Here Comes the Sun
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 6, 2018