Memoria Uno: The Tesla Session, aka: This is no lullaby

Memoria Uno #9 at Sala Fènix – 29th March ’16

Oriol Roca (drums)
Juan R. Berbin (drums)
Àlex Reviriego (electric bass)
Martín Léiton (electric bass)
Hilario Rodeiro (laptop)
Marcel Bagés (electric guitar)
Ferran Fages (electric guitar)
Marcel·li Bayer (bass clarinet)
Luiz Rocha (bass clarinet)
Tom Chant (tenor & soprano saxophones)
El Pricto (alto saxophone, conduction)
Iván González (conduction, trumpet)

It’s an electric dose of Memoria Uno tonight with doubled basses, guitars, and a haunted laptop for good measure. Add in a couple of bass clarinets and two, shall we say, expressive saxofonistas and I’m anticipating something wired and heavy at the hands of Iván González tonight…

I’m not disappointed. It begins with a wall of distortion, a rumbling, rotating, bubbling sea of volume from Fages and Bagés. Additional sounds gradually join the abstract, pure noise aesthetic: horns playing long, single-note lines, drums alternating skins with cymbals and Tibetan bells, an ascending scalar pattern from Léiton’s bass emerges and fades… Then it gets loud.

Chant dives into full-on vein-popping mode before Léiton and Reviriego lock in to a spontaneous fusion groove, propelled by Roca and Berbin. For a moment, it’s all very reminiscent of the latest Scando-prog-jazz (Møster, Elephant9, etc.) Chant’s continuous series of squeals and free tenor blasts contrasts with dual guitar riffs – pounding, relentless, and rather uplifting.

Finally, González eases back on the volume and some squelching electronic textures begin to come forward, courtesy of Rodeiro’s laptop, creating a somewhat colder, digital ambience via which Bayer, Rocha and Pricto join in an almost mellifluous moment soon crashed by a stop-start feedback-filled bass solo from Léiton… And so it goes: a kind of 70s rock-jazz vibe, sprinkled occasionally with sugar and Zappa playful weirdness (at one point, Rodeiro’s gurgles took me straight to the Yellow Shark).

The second piece is similarly immersive but an interesting ‘battle’ scenario: two quintets, left and right, sent off in different directions, balanced/linked/connected by the electronics in the centre (reminiscent of the recent 2nd disc which is two sextets plus piano). Beautiful chaos and besides, when you see a drummer (Berbin) in front of a full kit, choosing to bang away on an old saucepan, you know all bets are off.

For the 3rd piece, Pricto takes up conduction duties and González switches to trumpet. What we get is a looser style yet still highly kinetic, dramatic even, as Pricto sets up competing drum and bass duos with interjections from horns and guitars. High volume free-form passages of frenzy with brief instances of order as punctuation.

Moments: Luiz Rocha sing-yodelling into his bass clarinet; Léiton and Berbin laughing helplessly while not dropping a single note; Roca and Reviriego in a tight blues-y groove with slices of Rocha’s clarinet laid on top; Chant practically fellating his soprano for a distinctive tremolo effect… it’s a constantly descending spiral of sound, a whirlpool of drums, horns, bass, guitars and electronics.

Just when you think it’s all over, Iván González steps back up and he and El Pricto take a side each. Now it really is a ‘battle of the bands’. Have you ever accidentally (or otherwise) started two different tunes playing at the same time and the mixture turns out to be serendipitously gorgeous? Well, that. A dense and dissonant magick.