Cameron Mizell - Memory/Imagination

Label/Year: Destiny Records, 2017

Lineup – Cameron Mizell: guitar and effects.


After the enjoyable Negative Spaces (Destiny Records, 2016), recorded with his trio mates Brad Whiteley on keyboards and Kenneth Salters on drums, American guitarist Cameron Mizell deliberately plunges into experimental waters to explore a giddily new universe, Memory/Imagination, a solo improvisational effort that reflects on the fight for social justice in America.

Employing a geometric disposition of sonic layers to form contemplative neo-folk sceneries, the title track opens the record with dreamy tones, overlapped phrasing, and scrupulous electronics. A fine balance was achieved between the acoustic and the electric perceptions.

With the climate change in mind, the guitarist delivers “Melting” as an opaque, static exercise seated in an infinite drone whose relentless frequency serves as a pointer for extemporaneous adventures. This weird oscillation between the spacious and the spectral is felt even harder on “We’ll Find Our Way Out of This Mess”, which starts like an innocuous meditation but grows into an intimidating, feverish dream as the time passes. Somehow, the final section reminded me of the dark textures so characteristic in some of the works by the bassist Bill Laswell.

Sounding like a topsy-turvy version of “Happy Birthday”, “Toast” could play a valuable role in an eerie indie film due to its nebulous contortions. Also very cinematic and equally depicted with shades of noir, “A Turning Point”, creates a scenario dominated by delaying propagation waves, percussive tic-tacs, and jazz-blues axioms. Despite explorative, it is probably the most orthodox piece in this recording.

Mizell’s pinpoint control of the guitar is patented on “Vulnerabilities”, a sort of requiem that boasts a beautiful acoustic sonority in its intersection of effulgent fingerpicking and open chords. I can almost hear a touch of gypsy lament among the melodious, yearning folk chops. It differs from the static composure of “The View From Above”, where the guitarist counterpoints shrill-note pointillism with the shrewd work done at lower registers, letting the hope hovering in the skies.

Skillfully pairing controlled abstraction with American roots, Cameron Mizell probes new conceptions for his musical creativity, stepping on offbeat yet appetizing territories.

       Grade  A-

       Grade A-

Favorite Tracks:
01 - Memory/Imagination ► 05 - Vulnerabilities ► 07 - We’ll Find Our Way Out of This Mess

André Matos - Múquina

Label/Year: Robalo Music, 2017

Lineup - André Matos: guitar.


Portuguese guitarist André Matos has been a regular presence on the ‘scene’ since he moved to New York in 2006 after graduating from the New England Conservatory.
He thenceforth had the chance to record/perform with illustrious musicians such as Tony Malaby, Thomas Morgan, Leo Genovese, Jacob Sacks, Billy Mintz, Noah Preminger, Colin Stranahan, and Masa Kamaguchi, just to name a few.

After last year’s All the Dreams recorded in duo with his wife, the vocalist and composer Sara Serpa, he’s back with an intimate solo album entitled Múquina, released on the Portuguese label Robalo Music.

With an enveloping sound modulated by gorgeous effects, Matos begins the harmonious journey with the title track whose soft textures and pacific sound waves are comforting and moving. 
Força da Natureza” is made of the same nature but more verbalized, showcasing the sturdy technique of the guitarist.

My favorite track, “Malé”, is a hypnotic piece that flourishes with transcendent beauty, intriguing surroundings, and a bit of sadness. The emotion rises with the ascendant harmonic movements of the incisive finale.
Five of the fourteen tracks last less than two minutes, working as interludes. “MA” is one of the strongest, feeling like a lullaby whose passionate lyricism carries pronounced folk influences. The low-pitched drones of “Baixo Alentejo” are joined by sharp melodic contours, creating uncanny vibes that feel no less cinematic than the loose “European Film Scene”. Disruptive silences widen the space and deepen the scenario.

While “Horizontais” feels like a minimalistic exploration, “Cavalos Selvagens”, an old tune that actually gallops in its start, gets a more cerebral and less experimental approach than at other times.

The homogeneous Múquina glitters with lush, slow-motion soundscapes. The airy, meditative moods take us to a lenitive universe that opposes to the tense times living in the present world. Once there, you’ll find glimpses of Bill Frisell and Terje Rypdal, as well as pure reflections of Matos’ peace of mind.

         Grade  A-

         Grade A-

Favorite Tracks:
01 – Múquina ► 04 – Malé ► 06 – Baixo Alentejo