Radament ~ S/T

square-coverIf the recorded debut of duo Radament doesn’t sound like a debut, it’s because Barcelona’s Juanjo Fernández (piano and composition) and Giorgio Fausto Menossi (drums) have plenty of experience in other bands.  Their inspired collaboration shifts between composition and improvisation, as well as classical, jazz and rock, which would make them natural tour partners with Australia’s Tess Said So if only they lived closer.

The excitement of this music is that one seldom knows what’s coming next.  The surprise element appears as early as the first track, ironically titled “Snooze.”  The joke will be on anyone who tries to snooze to this track, because just as the piano sets into a sweet jazz pattern, BOOM! out come the rock drums.  The tempos shift multiple times in a manner that seems instinctive, but that must be incredibly difficult to play.  Imagine trying to go from hyperactive to calm to hyperactive again without effort; it’s hard to do.

In the hit film “La La Land”, the main character, a pianist played by Ryan Gosling, attempts to teach jazz appreciation to a love interest who “just doesn’t like jazz.”  He speaks of the genre’s history, its emotion, and most of all, its interplay, and by the end (not really a spoiler alert) she is convinced.  Radament is for people who don’t like jazz.  Without compromise, the album amplifies the accessible elements, opening windows in a musty house so that the breeze can blow dust from the keys.  The swift introduction of “Danza Mecánica” leads to a stop-and-start, a pas-de-deux that topples into a segment in which the lower keys sound like bass.  And then, in contrast to “Snooze”, a restrained segment in which the drummer taps instead of hits, like a thoughtful typist.  When the scales return, they do so with renewed excitement.

The energy of the album is palpable, the joy underlined by supple playing and a sense of freedom.  Only the short middle piece, “Autómata”, is restrained all the way through.  The duo obviously loves making music, and the notes are their carajillo.  The shifts between composition and improvisation, and between genres, occur as smoothly as a conversation between old friends. There are no seams, only a sense of well-earned camaraderie.  (Richard Allen)

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