album of the week – Super Mario, Overground Collective, Babel **** recommended
A very invigorating one this, the Babel label currently on a Loredana roll after a long hiatus following the departure to pastures new of label lieutenant, the affable Ozymandias reciting Paul Lewis.
Paulo Dias Duarte is a Portuguese composer and guitarist on the London scene for over a decade and a half. The orchestra has included an extraordinary array of top talent coming up. A bit of detective work has gone into this review so forgive the deerstalker quality. However, hey look there is the cover above and a word from Paulo.
So how does it begin? Deduce lots of twiddly guitar texture on the Intro and thereafter a veritable “seven part suite” the tracks no kidding Sherlock are numbered one to seven. More to the point each piece relates unlike a lot of albums where tracks live in their own Siberia and never melt even when there is a Gobi desert next door.
The word suite by the way is not mentioned. That is a blessing. For a brief minute the flavour is Beefheart-esque and then we are into electric guitar and a chunky Mingus-like vamp.
Muscular drums, anarchic horns, parping offbeats are all in the capacious larder. There is lots of gritty section work (eg on Part IV) and earlier Part II (coming up from the bass more Mingusiana mixed with that Chris Batchelor-esque flavour harking back to Loose Tubes initial listens conjured up). Flashingly cosmic keyboard part on this track, the arranging overall is extremely good. How you can sound free and yet write that freedom for a decent sized bunch of musicians and let them be themselves is achieved rewards plenty of head scratching.
A major new outfit, we have not had a big band such as this gathering since say the F-IRE Collective in their prime. Part III is like the ballad: certainly at the beginning, Duarte does not do plangent but here it is as close as makes no difference: An afternoon feel like a sort of anarchist holiday, bit of improving reading before the return to the protest and spot of rioting later in the improvisation.