Music Reviews

Artist: Pedra Contida (@)
Title: Amethyst
Format: CD
Label: FMR Records (@)
Rated: *****
In one of his poems pertaining to precious stones, the French poet Remy Belleau invented a myth about the one mentioned by the improv-jazz combo Pedra Contida (for the occasion made up of Angelica V.Salvi on harp, Nuno Torres on alto saxophone, Marcelo dos Reis on electric guitar, Miguel Carvalhais on computer and - last but not least - Joao Pais Filipe on an amazing set of metallic - mostly handmade - percussions). According to Belleau, Amethyst was a beautiful maiden, who refused the courtship by Bacchus, the well-known Greek god of wine, grapes and the inebriation induced by this lovely gift of Mother Nature. Mademoiselle Amethyste decided to pray gods in order to keep her uncorrupted (let's say so) and - it could sound strange - one goddess, Diana, replied and decided to turn her into something closer to pure quartz. I'm not sure that such a reaction was expected by that maiden... anyway as a consequence of such an abasement, Bacchus tried to corrupt the lady by pouring some wine into her new body, and that's a mythological explanation fo the reason why the related stone (considered a protection against wine-induced intoxication by ancient Greek believers) has that enchanting purple color. I'm not sure if these Portuguese musicians had this myth in their mind, but I hear something in the sound they explore that could ideally contain some of the aspects of that imaginary myth. The harp by Angelica and Marcelo's electric guitar, whose delicate picking opens the initial "Scree", by evoking a sort of gentle disquiet that gets highlighted by the smoky lines of saxophone by Nuno Torres. The whole atmosphere of the track gets more and more nervous over the track through a gradual agglomeration of pulses and prepares to the breaking dim light of the following track, "Chalk", where the initial tonal nodule by sax, percussions and electric guitar, provokes the asynchronous picking of the harp and the roaring distortions on guitar before the energy unleashed in the first part gradually fades out. This exhausted numbness following the tension of the previous track permeates the following and central output, "Agate", a sort of transition before the last two tracks where the joint connecting the elements is remarkably different. On "Obsidian", Torres' saxophone sounds like the unstable tiebreaker between Angelica's harp and Marcelo's guitar, whose fragile balance gets besieged by Filipe's crazy percussions and weird Carvalhas' inoculations, whose working is more clearly audible in the somber final piece "Touchstone", matchable to an annoying hangover after a punishment by Bacchus.

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