Memoria Uno at Sala Fènix – 27th October ’15

MemUno 27OctIvo Sans (drums)
Àlex Reviriego (bass)
Diego Caicedo (guitar)
Marcel Bagés (guitar)
Ferran Besalduch (bass & sopranino saxophones)
Marcel·li Bayer (bass clarinet, clarinet, flute)
Tom Chant (tenor & soprano saxophones)
El Pricto (alto saxophone, clarinet)
Fernando Brox (flute)
Ilona Schneider (voice)
Dario Fariello (alto saxophone)
Oriol Fontclara (baritone saxophone)
Frédéric Filiatrae (trombone)
Amaiur González (tuba)
Iván González (conduction)

The horns, reeds and vox kick things off with a slowly building chorus of rumbles, mutters, gurgles and heavy breathing. Hints of drums and bass join the gathering storm. Afterwards, it was suggested to me that this was a more ‘autumnal’ version of Memoria Uno and maybe so… a crisp sound, often inwardly-focused, a hint of incipient darkness… What’s certain is that there are a couple or three new sound flavours on this occasion.

Electric guitars (guitars of any kind, in fact) are here for the first time. Likewise improvising vocals. And while a flute has been seen in Sala Fènix, tonight, Brox is frequently centre-stage, combining with Schneider’s at-times eerie vocal soundscaping to provide an unusual airiness to the onslaught of 14 musicians in a confined space.

But, as ever, the more abstract passages are tempered by dollops of groove and humour. After a prolonged wordless vocal solo, we’re dropped into a tight drums-bass-guitar groove against which various brass and woodwind get to strut their solo stuff.

Sans and Reviriego in particular are on fire tonight (if ‘on fire’ is too clichéd a phrase, be assured the playing was anything but) and they start the second piece in a trio with Chant, playing frantic and free as the tenor stabs away.

Back to the ‘new flavours’… Caicedo and Bagés frequently give the evening a pleasingly dirty edge with overdriven chord work and dense non-idiomatic flurries that create fresh textures. In fact, in combination with the purer sound of vocals and flute, there’s a certain 70s prog-ish edge emerging (or perhaps I’ve just been listening to too much King Crimson lately).

The final couple of improvisations are variations on the ‘beautiful cacophony’ theme, with a notable quartet-within-the-orchestra moment as El Pricto, Filiatrae, Brox and Schneider create a passage of dancing abstraction, spontaneously emitting a flawless example of shared and subtle conversation.

Incarnation #6 and different again – same chef, different ingredients and in different quantities. I saw recently on Facebook (where else?) that there’s been a recording session for a second album. I can’t help wondering what ‘flavours’ were brought together on that occasion, but I’m pretty sure I’m going enjoy the resulting dish.