Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Norberto Lobo, Joao Lobo, Oba Loba

Anyone who reads regularly this review blog knows to expect virtually anything and everything that relates to guitar and bass playing, primarily in terms of music that may or may not be virtuoso showcases for artists, but is primarily determined by musical worth and interest.

Today's album is no exception. It is a Portuguese compositional ensemble headed by acoustic and electric guitarist (and multi-instrumentalist) Norberto Lobo and his brother (?) Joao Lobo on drums (and harp). The album is entitled Oba Loba (shhpuma 014CD).

It is music that does not fit neatly into categories. It has postmodern new music sonarity, jazz-rock, avant jazz, ambient and melodic dynamics, all mixed together in original ways. Norberto and Joao share the writing duties with one composed by Giovanni Di Domenico, who is the primary keyboard player in the ensemble. They are joined by Ananta Roosens on violin and trumpet, Jordi Grognard on clarinet and bass clarinet, and Lynn Cassiers on vocals and electronics. All join in on group vocals from time to time. There are several additional guests who appear here and there. So that takes care of the who.

The what does not go easily into a verbal description. This is original music both cutting-edge and lyrical. I won't say they sound like Oregon because they don't. But like early Oregon they create a diversely rooted music that is both tuneful and avant, sometimes alternatingly, sometimes both intermingled. Norberto plays some interesting guitar but everyone contributes and really it is especially all about a group compositional objective. That makes them unique because the group sound does not follow predictable lines though the hearing of it all can be easily appreciated once one gets used to what to expect.

This is a trip in uncharted waters and there are discoveries ahead. Set sail with some provisions and you should find the journey a pleasure and a surprise. Get your ears on this and you will come away with a feeling that you have been to a different place. What better?

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