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(52:52, Boosweet Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Feijao de Corda 5:34 2. Ojos Verdes 6:26 3. Havana 5:28 4. Anastacia 6:18 5. Monday Mourning 4:22 6. Arcos da Lapa 4:19 7. Samba da Elisa 4:39 8. Camino a Casa 5:21 9. Realidade Paralela 5:44 10. Recuerdos 4:41 LINEUP: Kiko Loureiro – guitars Yaniel Matos – pianos Cuca Teixeira – drums Carlinhos Noronha – bass
Prolusion. The Brazilian artist Kiko LOUREIRO is arguably among the best known guitarists in his native country. Invited to join highly popular and acclaimed metal act Angra at the age of 19, his reputation has been rising alongside that of the band for the last 20 years. In 2005 he decided to establish himself as a solo artist, which so far has resulted in three CDs: "Full Gravity" from 2005, "Universo Inverso" from 2006 and "Fullblast" from 2009. The first two have spawned several reissues, and amongst them is this 2007 edition of "Universo Inverso", released by the US label Boosweet Records in 2007.
Analysis. When an instrumentalist decides to issue solo material it is often due to a desire to showcase aspects of his repertoire that normally have the chance to be explored in his regular band. Guitarists have a tendency to release material showcasing technical finesse, and shredding is a trait commonly found on albums crafted by those who have a background in metal bands. Loureiro has showcased those tendencies quite nicely on his first and third solo album, but this second disc highlights a gentler and tender side to his playing, and in a manner which most likely will surprise and to some extent dismay ardent fans of Angra. Jazz rock is the name of the game for this production, with an emphasis on fluent soloing, smooth transitions and an overall gentle instrumental exploration. It's a purebred instrumental disc and those looking for anything related to metal will search in vain. Some of the soloing passages do point back to Loureriro's metal roots, but mostly in an indirect manner, referencing non-metal inspirations rather than any direct stylistic representation or reference. The songs themselves are rock solid, even if to some extent based on formula. Most pieces open with gentle, melodic soloing emphasizing fluency and smooth transitions backed by a distinctly jazz-oriented rhythm section and piano, followed by an elongated sequence where tangents man Matos gets to showcase his instrument backed by bass and drums, followed by the return of the guitar for the ending phase of the song. Minor variations in expression, tempo and intensity craft subtle variations; Loureiro alternates between fluent soloing, plucked motifs and drawn-out, carefully resonating notes with an ease many might envy him, and piano man Matos impresses with his ability to create tension by subtly alternating force and tempo in his performance. Smooth melodic jazz rock is the end result, but with enough subtle finesse and careful variations to maintain a high level of interest throughout, even in tranquil, lazy jazz efforts such as Recuerdos. Loureiro's backing band conjures up moments that remind me of Al Di Meola, specifically the gentler moments on his "Electric Rendezvous" production from 1981, the bass and piano interplay on Arcos da Lapa a good example of that particular detail. And on Camino a Casa the entire quartet gets into the Meola spirit full force, not replicating that sound but exploring a musical territory with many similarities in a most excellent manner. A somewhat rougher guitar sound and higher pace and intensity throughout suit the themes explored perfectly, and this composition is one that most likely will bring a broad smile to the face of all jazz rock enthusiasts.
Conclusion. Instrumental jazz rock isn't a style of music most will associate with Kiko Loureiro, I'd imagine, but with "Universo Inverso" he has documented that this type of music is one he excels at just as much as the metal he's more renowned for. If Latin-tinged rhythms, guitar soloing and a firm jazz-oriented backbone in an instrumental guise sounds like something you'd like to become familiar with, this is a disc you'll want to check out, in particular if gentle, smooth high-quality music enriched with subtle details suits your personal taste.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: May 7, 2011
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