Isotropy cs662









[Lisbon String Trio continues its recent trend of recording with more generally prominent Portuguese improvisers — as opposed to earlier albums featuring lesser known musicians — on Isotropy (their thirteenth album) with Luis Lopes on acoustic guitar, recorded in Lisbon in March 2020. I've mostly associated Lopes with more of a post-punk or post-alternative tradition, but his prior collaborations with Ernesto Rodrigues, Nepenthes hibrida (discussed here in June 2017) & Lithos (discussed June 2018) — both also featuring Vasco Trilla, as it happens — are if anything rather quiet. A more subtle interaction maintains on Isotropy as well, with (as the title would appear to suggest...) the guitar occupying similar spaces as the strings & often interacting on their terms — in contrast to e.g. the more lively "concerto" style I'd noted most recently of Sediments (with Gabriel Ferrandini, as discussed in December — and indeed showing the more contrasting or dialogic style with which I'd just compared the recent Setúbal, not actually by LST of course). In its technical solidarity, perhaps Isotropy can then be compared to Theia, on which Zingaro's violin turns LST into a more usual sort of string quartet, but that's more an album of stark gestures than richly flowing counterpoint.... (The sense of intertwining polyphony from the middle of the texture might actually suggest some earlier trombone collaborations for LST, albeit here with a fully polyphonic instrument added.) So the sound of acoustic guitar is initially subtle here, but a pervasive influence does start to emerge, as guitar chords come to twist & invert string counterpoint at times, lending a sense of shifting perspectives to music that also evokes something of the "travelogue" style I've noted elsewhere. (The sense of "world vistas" also suggests K'Ampokol Che K'Aay for me, itself becoming something of a LST classic, but there with clarinet bringing shifting perspectives to different layers articulated by the strings, rather than seeming to absorb them....) Some tight simultaneous pivots yield some amazing moments, particularly in the first track, as it often comes to suggest an orchestral scope, but Isotropy does also feel relatively short — making a big impression at times, as these improvised sessions sometimes do, but not forging a new vision: There's plenty of drama being invoked, though, and sometimes a sense of romance & tenderness. The shorter second track then opens around a more tentative guitar tune, even Asian-tinged, as it continues more of a collective focus on a main line — again articulated in varieties of pizzicato, etc. Its shifting perspectives do continue to yield an aura of pregnant mystery, though, amid a sense of continuing travels.... Isotropy is then both one of the most distinctive LST albums yet, and a new (for me anyway) stylistic tour-de-force for Lopes, showing great command of a variety of subtle ensemble textures. Todd McComb's Jazz Thoughts