Reviews Forces in Motion

The trio is Lencastre on alto saxophone, Hernâni Faustino on electric bass (to date, I have known Faustino as an double bassist with acoustic groups like the RED Trio), and drummer Vasco Furtado. The first album, Vento, was reviewed by Stuart Broomer here and he points out the ‘expressionist potential’ of the group. This spirit continues to thrive on Forces in Motion, and perhaps is even intensified through Faustino’s approach to the electric bass, in which the round tones of the double bass are replaced with dry, staccato notes, articulated in the mix and making the ground feel more ephemeral.

The album opens quietly, with a splash of cymbals and then through an extended welling of sound. The six minutes of ‘Dust’ rises and falls without ever kicking up too much of a cloud, though it never settles either. It leads to the 13 minute ‘Point of departure,’ which is a showcase of jittery bass work and complimentary drumming. Lencastre probes the craggy contours and in turn weaves an expressive melody. The tempo picks up as the track progresses, Faustino plays a counter melody, while Furtado responds with cracking stick-work. Lencastre is quick, he bobs and weaves throughout the buzzing rhythm work. The pieces reaches a breaking point and the three retreat. The third track, ‘Cascade’ picks up with the exploratory sound of Faustino’s bass, augmented by electronics. The drums and sax soon come in, Lencastre plays a searching melody and Furtado leans into the tom-toms. The three explore a deliberate theme that eventually builds to an intense apex. Lencastre, even when getting into the altissimo register, doesn’t force his instrument, rather his sound is propelled by the centrifugal forces of the rhythm. This both holds true too on the next long piece “Lava Flow” that begins exploratory and builds to a peak with red hot melodic rivulets streaming down its sides.

The work of the trio on Forces in Motion is highly enjoyable. Accessible and energetic, at times exploratory and others awash in pulse and melody. Paul Acquaro



The first album of the Portuguese trio of sax hero José Lencastre, bassist Hernâni Faustino and drummer Vasco Furtado, «Vento» (2020), was the first album of their newly founded label Phonogram Unit. The sophomore album of this fine trio, «Forces in Motion», was recorded with no audience an empty church, Igreja do espírito Santo in Caldas da Rainha, and was broadcasted live for a radio program in October 2020. As in a DIY label, Furtado mixed the album and Faustino contributed the cover image.

The atmosphere of «Forces in Motion» stresses the organic and democratic dynamics of this trio. Lencastre, who plays the alto sax, develops intriguing, melodic threads in a slow-cooking but always searching manner. Faustino, who plays here the electric bass uses cleverly the bass effects, together with Furtado color Lencastre’s musings with imaginative, fundamental details, and intensifying his mysterious, beautiful ideas. The six pieces correspond with each other, all offer enough space to breathe and improvise, and each piece introduces more nuances to the patient, natural flow of the music.

This trio has solidified its own strong identity, and the slow-percolating pieces like «Points of departure», «Cascade», the aptly-titled «Lava flow» and «Jellyfish sea» emphasize the risk-taking approach and the unique sound of this trio. The magical «End song» is a beautiful conclusion to a beautiful album. Eyal Hareuveni



Vento foi o álbum com que este mesmo trio — formado por José Lencastre (saxofone alto), Hernâni Faustino(baixo) e Vasco Furtado (bateria) — marcou o arranque do catálogo da cooperativa editora Phonogram Unit que soma já oito lançamentos, seis dos quais durante o corrente ano. E se essa estreia nos levou por aqui mesmo a sublinhar a sua estrutura de “seis feéricos temas de livre improvisação”, para este novo registo de “forças em movimento”, em que Faustino decide trocar o contrabaixo acústico pelo baixo eléctrico, o triângulo soa mais contido nestes novos seis quadros, porventura mais cerebral. Forces in Motion, revelam-nos as notas de lançamento, foi gravado ao vivo, mas sem público, na Igreja do Espírito Santo, nas Caldas da Rainha, em Outubro de 2020, sendo a apresentação transmitida ao vivo no espaço de rádio da associação Osso Colectivo. “Lava Flow”, a peça mais expansiva nos seus quase 14 minutos de duração, acaba por ser uma boa metáfora para o que aqui parece escutar-se: lentas, mas imparáveis deslocações tectónicas, com cada um dos músicos a assumir o peso de um verdadeiro continente, cada um povoado não de fauna e flora, mas de texturas e nuances cromáticas sonoras que se combinam num vívido planisfério de vibrantes e diferenciadas topografias: o ar de Lencastre, a terra de Furtado e a água de Faustino a criarem o fogo de cada vez que se encontram, como bem demonstrado depois da “erupção” a meio do já citado tema, em que Faustino parece reencontrar um pulso rock de outrora e Furtado e Lencastre seguem a direito rumo a um mundo novo. Tivesse havido público presente e é provável que tivesse havido crowdsurfing. Rui Miguel Abreu 



Building a mostly acoustic trio around an electric bassist calls for adjustments from all concerned. The amplified thrust of a plugged-in instrument means that the player must be aware that its traits shouldn’t overpower the others’ sounds. Similar accommodation must come from the other players to blend bass textures into the exposition.

On Forces in Motion’s six selections electric bassist Hernâni Faustino, alto saxophonist José Lencastre and drummer Vasco Furtado use the low-pitched pumps and vibrations of the four-string electric as novel textures for new adaptations. All are accomplished participants in Portugal’s creative music scene with Faustino himself  working, usually on acoustic bass, with the likes of Agustí Fernández and John Butcher. Meanwhile, performed live with dancer Smaïl Kanouté and mostly composed by veteran French bassist Hubert Dupont, Sirocco takes makes full use of the rhythmic function of the electric bass. But Dupont, who has recorded with everyone from Naïssam Jalal to Benoît Delbecq doesn’t just rely on the instrument’s steady pulse. In this multi-geographic kaleidoscope, he also brings out his acoustic bass, bass guitar and FX. His associates are Christophe Monniot on sopranino, alto and baritone saxophones, Lyricon, synthesizer and FX, and in the place of percussion the live electronics and treatments of Théo Fischer.

Projecting the beat, Dupont initially creates the horizontal  continuum which anchors Monniot’s clarion fluttering which projects the theme, and the meld of vibes-like plinks, bongo-like raps and guiro-like scrapes overlaid with electronic fluctuations which fragment it. Throughout these high-pitched oscillated whizzes affiliate and break away from shrill reed twitters and double bass strums. Distance is emphasized by the time “Space” is reached at mid point. Rather than dissolving into the galaxy, terrestrial beats come forward with a rock solid Motown-like bass guitar line and the percussion equivalent from Fischer. Every time  Monniot’s trembling sopranino or baritone reed trills and treatment wiggles and slides threaten to undermine the suite’s terpsichorean rhythm, arco double bass lines re-establish the linear flow. The results not only push the piece forward, but allow the bassist and saxophonist to create and mirror the same thrust, which is as circularly connective as it is powerfully staccato. Before the theme can fade, a collection of faux handclaps, intermittent reed squeaks and syncopated bass thump re-establish the flow. Reaching the penultimate and concluding “Nation dauphine” and “Larsen Bottleneck” the three confirm both the aggressive measured pulse for the dancer and the intense improvisations reflected in string thumb pops and reed vibrations.

Moving from freer movement to free improvisation, the Portuguese trio express its innovative command with swizzle-stock-like percussion patterning, accented bass thrusts and an upsurge in vibrating, irregular reed accents. Each of the six selections is titled, but except for the brief intro and even briefer coda, Forces in Motion are presented in two extended improvisations. Early on “ Points Of Departure” /”Cascade” is identified as much by the pops and ruffs from Furtado’s kit as Faustino’s chunky but fluid string pulsations. As they interact to preserve the themes’ momentum, Lencastre distends it with spetrofluctuation that borders on Reveille as well as with snorting scoops. Sweeping through the murky curtain of affiliated timbres, the saxophonist eventually torques the exposition with searing altissimo intensity layered on top of drum rumbles, cowbell accents and churning electrified bass work. Slower paced and lower pitched, “Lava Flow”/ “Jellyfish Sea” initially creates a similar triangular improvisation with sour sax peeps, bass string strums and drum top rubs. When the tempo double midway through the first tune however, the legato result is characterized by almost human-sounding reed cries. Halving the tempo again by the following “Jellyfish Sea”, Faustino’s low-key commentary is the closest he comes to a bass solo on the disc. As the final sequence becomes more pressurized, it’s prevented from sinking into thick murk by the saxist’s separated and intermittent single peeps. A final string strum and drum pop confirms the tale’s conclusion.

Confirming the electric bass’ place in time-stretching creativity either of these sets is what connects these distinctive sets. Ken Waxman



Pouco mais de um ano após o lançamento de Vento, o trio formado por José Lencastre (saxofone alto), Hernâni Faustino (baixo eléctrico) e Vasco Furtado (bateria) volta à carga com Forces in Motion, álbum que, tal como o seu antecessor, foi editado pela portuguesa Phonogram Unit, selo discográfico que tem trazido para o mercado algum do melhor free jazz e música improvisada que tem sido criada por músicos nacionais. Uma das características que distingue este Forces in Motion do seu antecessor é o facto de Faustino tocar baixo elétrico e não contrabaixo, o que permite que o trio explore diferente paletes tímbricas e possibilidades sónicas.

Se já o havia feito em Vento, em Forces in Motion a dupla Lencastre-Faustino assume-se novamente como uma verdadeira força da natureza, apresentando uma química ímpar na cena de free jazz nacional, qual imparável locomotiva de duas carruagens, sempre comunicantes, que dialoga incessantemente para gerar e resolver tensões, as quais são habilidosamente sustentadas pelos ritmos e texturas criados por Vasco Furtado, que forma os carris, o sustento, desta estrutura. São 6 os temas que constituem este trabalho, que foi gravado ao vivo, sem público, na Igreja do Espírito Santo, nas Caldas da Rainha, por ocasião de uma actuação que foi transmitida em directo para o programa de rádio do Osso Colectivo. A música resultante é livre e desenvolta; visita tanto paisagens calmas como buliçosas, numa dinâmica que surge com imensa naturalidade e que demonstra que a ousadia e risco artísticos impostos a este trabalho se revelaram uma mais-valia, tornando-o em mais um documento essencial para a compreensão do actual estado da arte da música criativa em Portugal.

O álbum abre com “Dust”, tema em que Furtado cria várias camadas de texturas, simbólicas da tal poeira a que o título do tema faz alusão, enquanto Lencastre deixa-se flutuar, tocando circularmente, acompanhado pelas notas longas, negras e sombrias de Faustino. Escutam-se, depois, os primeiros laivos de uma proto-melodia por parte do altista, que lentamente se desvanece, ocultando-se o trio novamente na neblina. Não estranharíamos se depois desta introdução o trio seguisse pelos caminhos do doom, do sludge ou do stoner, mas a via escolhida é prontamente desvelada em “Points of Departure”.

O que se segue, então, é free jazz electrizado, com um certo toque de gramática old school, mas com um feeling totalmente contemporâneo. O baixo de Faustino é clean e punchy, provocador, dir-se-ia até, sempre a questionar as ideias de Lencastre, que amiúde se vê tentado a desenhar esboços melódicos. Há um sparring de corpo a corpo entre Faustino e Lencastre neste tema, no qual Furtado preenche os interstícios da matriz saxofone-baixo como cola que junta os pedaços que restam de um combate a dois. Não significa isto, no entanto, que não haja aqui orgânica de grupo. Esta é, aliás, assegurada exactamente por Furtado, o verdadeiro sustento rítmico, pois Faustino viaja livre, descolando-se do papel típico do baixo rítmico para se lançar em confrontos musicais com Lencastre, os quais fazem “Points of Departure” crescer gradualmente em intensidade. Dita dinâmica continua até que o estado de transição é atingido, momento em que o trio volta a descer à terra, pavimentando o caminho para o início atmosférico de “Cascade”, que acaba por se desenvolver por trilhos semelhantes aos explorados no tema anterior.

A lava de “Lava Flow” vem de magma livre e sem forma. Aos poucos, e à medida que é expelida e flui, vai ganhando forma. Primeiro, Faustino marca o compasso com um ostinato que impele o alto de Lencastre, tímido e calculista, a vir à tona, acompanhado pelas peles de Furtado. Depois, há diálogo entre Lencastre e Furtado; Faustino ressurge de supetão, com um baixo mais bluesy e distorcido, dando assim início à coda final, que desbrava caminho com toda a pujança. “Jellyfish sea” apresenta dinâmica similares, reforçando uma ideia de trio que tanto sabe acelerar e ser intenso, como sereno e delicado. “End Song” termina o disco em acalmia, apenas com Furtado e Faustino em cena. Lencastre abstém-se de tocar. O combate, esse, já havia sido ganho; em equipa, está claro – uma vitória a três.

Sem surpresa e com classe, o trio Lencastre-Faustino-Furtado revela-se uma vez mais como um dos mais entusiasmantes a tocar free jazz em Portugal. Mais uma vitória para a formação e mais um belo lançamento, que tanto estimo ter na minha colecção, da Phonogram Unit. João Morado 




Opnieuw een release die onderstreept dat er nog altijd geen maat staat op de Portugese improvisatie en dan vooral ook op saxofonist José Lencastre. Die speelde zich de voorbije vijf jaar in de kijker via een indrukwekkende lijst platen. Hij dook op in grote ensembles die grote sier maken op het Creative Sources-label (ikb, Variable Geometry Orchestra, Isotope Ensemble), bracht vier albums uit met zijn Nau Quartet, eentje met Raoul van der Weide en Onno Govaert, een duoalbum met João Sousa en intussen ook deze tweede worp met bassist Hernâni Faustino en drummer Vasco Furtado. En dan verscheen er op het moment van schrijven ook nog eentje van zijn kwintet Common Ground.

Een verrassende vaststelling is hier misschien dat Faustino deze keer kiest voor de elektrische bas. Vaak is dit een signaal dat de muzikanten aan het rocken gaan, of op z’n minst kiezen voor een krachtiger geluid, maar dat is hier niet het geval – of toch niet altijd. Ze lijken er net op uit om de uitdaging die de combinatie van akoestische en elektrische instrumenten biedt goed in balans te houden. Het helpt ook dat er hier geen muzikant is die zich naar de voorgrond probeert te wurmen. Het grootste deel van de muziek gaat gelijk op, met een ongemeen voelbare focus, vanaf de sereen-intense opener “Dust”, met die circulaire altsaxpatronen en resonerende cimbalen.

Wat volgt zijn dan een reeks kloeke stukken van 10-15 minuten waarin het trio diverse ideeën uitprobeert. “Points Of Departure” zit vol hoekige bewegingen, alsof de muziek voortdurend struikelt en Lencastre vat het allemaal mooi samen met een ongewone combinatie van lyriek en snedigheid. Ambienttexturen kleuren het begin van “Cascade”, dat verderop uitpakt met een onderhuids pulserende kracht die steeds explicieter naar het oppervlak komt. Minstens even goed: “Lava Flow”. In de kop een combinatie van dromerige basklanken en kale percussie, maar verderop steeds meer die titel waarmakend, met in de tweede helft een verrassend directe kracht. De spreidstand tussen melodieuze finesse en robuuste ritmes blijft aangehouden tot het einde, met in het vlugge “Jellyfish Sea” een gracieus fladderende Lencastre en een afsluitend “End Song”, dat weer inwaarts keert. Een knap einde voor een ijzersterk album dat avontuur, energie, onvoorspelbaarheid en verfijning bij elkaar brengt en zo meteen uitgroeit tot alweer een hoogtepunt in een compacte catalogus die alsmaar indrukwekkender wordt. Guy Peters 



Kolejna historia dzieje się już w samej Lizbonie (Igreja do Espírito Santo, Caldas da Rainha), w połowie października ubiegłego roku. Znów jest z nami Vasco Furtado na perkusji, a towarzyszą mu – José Lencastre na saksofonie altowym oraz Hernâni Faustino na gitarze basowej (zauważmy, iż na poprzedniej płycie tego tria grał na kontrabasie!). Muzycy przygotowali dla nas sześć improwizowanych epizodów, które trwają niemal pełną godzinę zegarową. Nagranie wydaje się być nieprzerwanym strumieniem dźwiękowym, w który tłocznia wkleiła niepotrzebne przerwy pomiędzy wyselekcjonowane odcinki narracji.

Improwizacja otwarcia toczy się w dużym skupieniu, jest powolna, po portugalsku leniwa. Perkusyjne talerze, bas w uśpieniu, przyczajony alt – zmyślny konglomerat abstrakcyjnego post-rocka, słodko-gorzkiego jazzu i samorodnego, meta polirytmicznego drummingu. W drugą odsłonę wchodzimy nad wyraz płynnie, w momencie, gdy linię narracji zaczyna delikatnie zarysowywać bas. Dynamika przybiera na sile w sposób dalece nieoczywisty, wydaje się być jakaś rozkołysana, niestabilna, a jednak samonakręcająca się, niczym spirale zegara. Saksofon śpiewa, bas buduje fundament, a perkusja stymuluje tempo, aż po rockowe spiętrzenia, ekspresję free jazzu i emocje ponadgatunkowego fussion. Drugą opowieść wieńczy solowa ekspozycja basu, pełna mrocznej post-psychodelii.

Na starcie kolejnej części pod gryfem basu płynie strużka ulotnego ambientu. Narracja startuje na dobre, gdy bas i perkusja wejdą w tryb niemal downstepowy, zostawiając sporą przestrzeń na saksofonowe przebieżki. Kolejny krok ku dobrym emocjom ma miejsce w momencie, gdy bas włączy gitarowego fuzza, a saksofon uniesie się głowę ku górze, niczym czapla na żerowisku. Tempo rośnie wtedy, jak grzyby po deszczu, a karty rozdaje definitywnie basista. Jego post-psychodeliczny trip rozstawia pozostałych po kątach i stymuluje lub destymuluje rozwój improwizacji. Na początku czwartej części bas staje w miejscu, szumi i szuka drobiazgów na podłodze pełnej gitarowych przetworników. Gdy zacznie kręcić pętle, perkusja jest tuż obok, a saksofon może wydać z siebie kolejny leniwy potok meta melodii. Fantazyjny groove sekcji rytmu niesie na swych brakach dęte fale smutku, nasączone jednak post-jazzową tanecznością. I to saksofon w dalszej fazie tej improwizacji przejmuje dowodzenie! Bas tymczasem milknie, bierze głęboki oddech, po czym masywnym fuzzem tłamsi wszelkie wątpliwości narracyjne. To mocne przesilenie sprawia, iż piątą odsłonę podróży muzycy muszą podnosić niemal z samej podłogi. Grają na małe pola, syczą na siebie, jak wygłodniale kocury. Także ta opowieść dostaje jednak basowego kopa i nabiera tempa doprawdy efektownego. Samo hamowanie odbywa się wszakże bez pisku opon, w sposób nieco mniej przemyślany. Dwuminutowe encore grane jedynie przez bas, wspierany perkusyjnymi talerzami, pięknie koi drobne ambiwalencje recenzenta. Andrzej Nowak