ROJI – The Hundred Headed Women

Gonçalo Almeida – bass and loops
Jörg A. Schneider – drums

Guests:
Susana Santos Silva – trumpet
Colin Webster – baritone sax

Inner Roji
2 Sisters
Sounding Restraint
1+1=3
Pacific
Prelude to a Broken Sax
The Hundred Headed Women
(38.37)

Shhpuma SHH 023 CD

Roji is apparently Japanese for “dewy ground”. If I could make sense of that and work it into this review, I would. As it is, I’m planning on getting a 7 Questions interview from bassist Gonçalo Almeida (also to be found in Bulliphant, Spinifex, and Albatre among others) so maybe I can cajole an explanation out of him then. Anyway…

…this is Almeida’s duo project with drummer Jörg A. Schneider (Jealousy Mountain Duo, Nicoffeine) though duo is a bit of a misnomer since on all but one track (the collaborative collision that is 2 Sisters) they’re joined by either Susana Santos Silva or Colin Webster. Now, both trumpet and saxophone are often categorised as “melodic” instruments but here texture is everything and Santos Silva and Webster take turns to contribute slabs and dabs of concrete filigree, alternately gilding and hammering the hypno-rhythmic structures created by Almeida and Schneider.

Schneider’s drums dance and swerve, always propulsive, never predictable – eschewing simple rhythm-keeping for a more nuanced and three-dimensional role. Almeida’s bass is the core thread. It rumbles, it drives, and it drags you along behind by the hair. It offers a deceptively straight and steady path that is likely to dissolve into murky distortion when you least expect it. And yet, it provides the structure around which Schneider et al. create their dystopian murals. Yes, this disc often has that post-apocalyptic tension thing going on. But what elevates it above the usual noise-prov, jazzcore fare is a sense of balance, of precise authority, the feeling that it couldn’t be anything than what it is. This is a definitive statement.