As founder and main operator of the Merzbau label (pioneering netlabel in Portugal, home to some of the most solid and consequential new names in the portuguese scene, such as Lobster, B Fachada, Noiserv, Frango or Walter Benjamin) Tiago Sousa had always shown an attention to novelty and an healthy disregard for genres or for playing it safe. Merzbau came to an end, earlier this year, having fulfilled its mission and its destiny, with some of its front runners attaining considerable attention and even success in the portuguese scene.
Come 2009. Merzbau has reached its end with a feeling of mission accomplished. Tiago Sousa, in the meantime, had assumed a surprising solo career, with the release of Crepsculo, Noite/Nuit and The Western Lands. Surprising because, and despite the broad aesthetics he revealed as an editor, nothing in that aspect of his life hinted at the direction its own music would take. Far from the indie pop precepts of Noiserv, B Fachada, Jesus The Misunderstood or Mariana Ricardo, and equally distant from Frangos overt experimentalism or the muscled noise rock of Lobster or Lemur, Tiagos music took as reference contemporary classical music, though assuming a creative method clearly owing to the ingenuity, simplicity and spontaneity of improvisation. The emotive and restrained melodies he sketched on those records, mainly coming out of his piano, evoke not as much his inside knowledge and living of the highly remarkable last 5 years in portuguese indie or experimental music, but more so his discovery of luminaries such as Erik Satie, Terry Riley, Robbie Basho or Olivier Messiaen, as well as his readings of most of the Beat Generation masters, the political testimonies of H.D. Thoreau and the Situationists or the distant Eastern Philosophy.
So here we are, on the verge of Insnia, Tiagos fourth record, released by Humming Conch. An album which is almost exclusively fed by the piano, with drums and even some clarinet popping out every now and then, courtesy of guest musicians Joo Correia and Ricardo Ribeiro. Insnia, recorded in the beginning of the year by american sound-engineer and university teacher Geoffrey Mulder, and mastered by the renowned Taylor Deupree, who runs the 12rec label, is, simultaneously, the record that one anticipated from Tiago (or which awaited Tiago), but also a surprising effort. It is, on one side, a certain pinnacle of the work Tiago had been developing, but its surprise lies in the fact that, in a way, nothing had anticipated such an accomplished and emotionally-charged record. The steadiness of its markedly impressionistic meanderings, echoing Debussy or Chopin, and the savoir-faire with which it turns simple and small melodies into crafty hymns of spirituality and meditation, show that this is a nocturnal record, no doubt about that, but also reveal a morning splendor and vigor which materialize on the unstoppable and unresistant propelling of tracks like Passos, and hinted at on the several movements of the chosen single Folha Caduca or the opening track Movimento.
LP (500 copies)
Clarinet by Ricardo Ribeiro, Compostions, Piano, Guitars and Organs by Tiago Sousa, Drums by Joo Correia
Produced by Tiago Sousa & Joo Correia, Recorded by Geoffrey Mulder in a small bedroom at Barreiro, Mixed by Tiago Sousa and Geoffrey Mulder in a tiny house at Bairro Alto, Lisboa, Mastered by Taylor Deupree.
Cover Artwork by Pedro Loureno
1. Folha Caduca
3. Surrealismo Impressionista