Point of Departure review by Bobby Hill

Lama  Oneiros  Clean Feed (CF 240)
Oneiros is the debut recording by Lama, a Portugal-based trio that grew out of 2008 conservatory studies of bassist Gonçalo Almedia and trumpeter Susana Santos Silva in Rotterdam; there they met Canadian drummer Greg Smith, who was providing percussion accompaniment for a local dance studio. Almedia and Silva were both already established members of the Portuguese improvised music scene, working in Atos and Spinifex Quintet, as well as American ensembles led by Carla Bley, John Hollenbeck, and Lee Konitz.  Smith had also worked in the US with David Binney, and abroad with England’s Colonel Red Live and Sandra St. Victor’s Sinner Child.

“Oneiros” is a Greek noun, meaning “dream.” Lama’s music often seems to alternately erupt and decay in a dream-like fashion, though never evanescently. And like many new generation creative improvisers, Lama embraces technology to this end. Almedia augments his double bass with pedal box-delivered effects, and Silva reconfigures and extends her trumpet and flugelhorn through loops, filters, and effects.

The resulting music is often challenging, but its complexities have clear purpose, particularly in establishing and sustaining mood. Almeida’s lovely “Melodia Minusculeha” has a precious veneer that belies its haunting undertones. An opening pedal point bass figure intermingles with muted trumpet lines suggesting child-like innocence. As Silva’s trumpet fades, the bass becomes more prominent; the trumpet then returns as flutters and soft whirls to reinforce a dream-like ambiance. Throughout the piece, Smith accents such susurrations with mallet rumbles and cymbal shadings. Lama creates contrasting dreamscapes on the Silva-composed “My Fucking Thesis”, where her trumpet is processed to sound at times almost reed-like against driving drums and bass accompaniment, and the opening track, “Alguidar,” which blooms from static scratches that are sustained throughout the song’s swinging tempo and mood shifts.

Oneiros is a solid archetype for future volumes of Lama’s sound-dreams.

One response to “Point of Departure review by Bobby Hill

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