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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Manuel Mota & Jason Kahn - Espírito Santo [Mazagran Records - 2011]

“Espírito Santo” is a very dreamy, melancholic and drifting slice of guitar, analogue electronics & subtle percussive based quiet jamming/improv. The release brings together Lisbon based guitarist  Manuel Mota- who has been actively creating since the early 1990’s, and has received praise from the likes of Derek Bailey. And Zürich based Jason Kahn- whose a highly respected percussionist & electro improviser whose been working in the field since the mid 1990’s.

The album takes its name from the building in  Lisbon where the album was recorded in October 2009.  The building was formerly a bank, and it had been empty many years and it had recently opened again for artists to use as studio and exhibition space. The cellar room the pair recorded in, resembling at first glance  a cave than a cellar, and it was remarkable for its acoustics. The room had eight-meter high ceilings, brick walls and concrete floor. In addition to this, the local subway line ran adjacent to the building and its vibrations could be felt (and heard) during the recording.

The album conists of two just over half a hour pieces, and these are built around wondering yet reserved & small guitar flourishers, layers of subtle shimmering percussive detail, and sudden swells of analogue electronics. The guitar playing dips into both  blues & improv based playing, and the percussive & analogue electronics create a slightly edgy & yet gloomy drifting counter balance.  Each track here follows a fairy similar pattern & compositionally lay-out, with Mota’s guitar playing been the most constant & always present element, While Kahn's percussion & electronics shimmering & ebbing in & out of sonic view.  Nothing really major happens in either tracks compositional path,  but it’s the way the pair create this drifting, melancholic & hazed vibe that makes things so entrancing. Through I did feel it might have been more effective if the album had been cut by say twenty or so minutes, as it did start to outstay it’s wondering & drifting vibe around the forty minute mark.

So if you enjoy drifting, quite, melancholic yet slightly edgy improv & subdued jamming “Espírito Santo” is worth a look.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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