RED Trio (Clean Feed)

Derek, Master of a Small House (2010/24/03)

An exact corollary between the RED Trio and the color crimson remains unclear. One possible connection is the manner in which this Portuguese threesome pushes the limits of their instruments as sound generators. The figurative effect is akin to a needle gauge tipping over thrillingly into the red, though that imagery is not to suggest that they’re obsessed with bombast, speed and bluster. The dynamic range mapped on the disc’s six pieces is cavernously deep and wide. Pianist Pandelis Karayorgis, who pens the brief liner essay, likens them to the post-Bill Evans/Paul Bley tradition on the basis of equanimity between each player’s input. They’re also partial to the long haul but adept at retaining the energy and economy of a short jaunt.

Melody is an afterthought to much of the trio’s conversation. Snatches appear intermittently, mainly through pianist Rodrigo Pinheiro’s pitch-precise plinks and plonks, but far more often its grain and weave that serve as topical compass points. Overdubbing sounds in play on the opening “Core” as Pinheiro builds cross-hatching lines from prepared and pristine portions of his piano strings. Karayorgis’ notes argue otherwise and the density of the converging sound sources is all the more remarkable for it. Bassist Hernani Faustino and percussionist Gabriel Ferrandini take a comparative backseat, but are hardly idle in stoking the forward momentum of the piece. For “Flat” its Faustino’s turn under the figurative klieg light in a solo that contains a welcome surplus of thrum and thwack.

“Coda, Static” skates by quick, but the aptly-titled “Quick Sand” is all about a gradually tugging textural build. All three players resort to rubbing and scraping at their instruments, at first just at the edges of audibility but eventually reaching an encompassing volume. Sections of the resulting bricolage sound like ambient captures from an underground metalwork factory. “Timewise” travels a similar trajectory narrowing focus to Ferrandini’s kit in its second half in a minimalist exploration of percussive patter. A barely more than a minute, “Burning Light” acts like a concentrated stentorian analogue of the earlier “Quicksand” as the three instruments blur in a coarse cavalcade of textured sound. Red traditionally means stop. In the case of this creative trio it unequivocally connotes go.

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