Lama – Oneiros (CF 240)
From the seeds of invention planted at a conservatory in Rotterdam in 2008, through experimentation and fruitful hard work, the Portuguese-based trio LAMA delivers a wild ride with Oneiros , their debut album and one of the best releases in 2011. The music is equal parts avant-garde and modern jazz, mixed by trumpeter Susana Santos Silva [Devil’s Dress (TOAP, 2011)], bassist Gonçalo Almeida—both of whom provide electronic embellishments—and Greg Smith on drums.
From the onset of “Alguidar,” the trio’s bold inventions make a cutting impression—the sound of static, an ethnic melodic riff, ethereal sounds of acoustic and processed persuasions. In the end, it all comes down to musicians with complete facility on their instruments creating art through inventiveness, where compositions emerge and reshape at the drop of a dime with changes in tempo, heated exchanges, robust solos, and plenty of room for experimentation.
The title track could be the soundtrack for some art-house independent film with Smith’s tribal-beat toms. There is also the grindhouse aura of “Tarantino,” where Silva’s opulent horn is silhouetted against the eerie presence of the pedal effects generated from Almeida’s bass. The ominous tone finds respite in “Melodia Minúscula,” a beauteous flowering of soft trumpet tones, a simple bass ostinato, and percussion colorizations. It’s like waking up in on different planet that is still personal and familiar.
Two of the more memorable pieces make bold statements. “Overture for Penguins” is an onslaught of sound: trumpet trills, chaotic drumming, and a dirge-themed melody. Silva’s “My Fucking Thesis” is not only brash in name, but also features some remarkably spirited playing. Oh, and let’s not forget “The Chimpanzee Who Told Man How to Cry,” where Silva’s digitally processed horn builds around her trio mates’ tempestuous playing. While there are shades of influences from the past and present, the trio successfully pulls off the hat trick by sounding totally unique while demanding respect with superlative musicianship. Oneiros is brilliant and distinguishable.