Tentos, invenções e encantamentos, – attempts, inventions and enchantments –
make up the captivating filter Luís José Martins allows us to drink from.
“Prelúdio” is the invitation, accepted when the revisited theme comes back, transparent. The wide-ranging arpeggio travels across the rocky surface of the guitar, systematic figures in tempo rubato. Mesmerized by that game of expectations, surprises and comforts, we find ourselves inside the musician’s head, within his enchanted song.
Within his song and his sound, every nuance superbly recorded and amplified, from the purest gentleness to the most intense energy. This music and this instrument are the result of quite a long career in music, of years of experimenting, of tentos (attempts) – a remote evocation of that rudimentary and warm Iberian musical form of the 17th century, which above all gives voice to the composer behind the free and ornate, almost improvised, gesture. Grounded on experimental music, the prepared guitar, the recorded sounds, the delays and loops, the bow and the small percussion instruments, the unique scordatura of each piece, the capo and the new instrumental techniques, the immersion in amplification and in the space can be perceived as extended techniques (almost all of them are summoned in the last track, “Antumbra”), as vital a part of Luís José Martins’ musical language as the notes he chooses to play, the motifs he explores to the limit or, in his own words, the place he goes to, where he gets to and where he is.
If “Canção” rises, lovingly, out of the harmonic, almost orchestral, texture of the piling up and suspension of tenacious motifs, the eminently melodic character of the guitar stands out in almost every piece, where the chord and the counterpoint often give way to polyphonic mosaics. By infinitely hurling new motifs inside “Ostinato” (weaving, like in “Folksong”, the theme into its variation), by drawing “Umbra” note by note (warping, like the volatile motif in “Estudo”, the regularity of the tempo), this indissoluble sum of technique and language appears very clearly before us, the sum of the invention and the exteriorized voice. “Folksong”, however, over the lyrical “Senhora do Almortão” is where the polyphonic overlap and verticality are at their sharpest, where the friction of the strings evokes the continuum of the hurdy-gurdy, and we hear the crisp notes of the viola braguesa and the deep tones of the bass guitar. The enchanting filter reveals the senses, the feeling, both of the darkest night and of the brightest day. Different places set side by side, the dark melody swallowed by the acute “Ressonância”, the blinding light that comes out of the low-pitched “Estudo”.