Having a set of players tackling tools they’re not accustomed to is a somewhat unsafe proposal. However, Cai-Bem – the newest release by minor legend David Maranha, of Osso Exotico renown – eschews the disasters of disorderly improvisation more or less completely.
The duration is that of a classic vinyl LP, around twenty minutes per side. The instrumentation – comprising organ, bass, drums, shruti box and voice – is improved by an object this writer is particularly affectioned to: a Fostex 4-tape cassette recorder, namely the very first means through which he attempted his own “creative” pastiches as a youngster. Needless to say, the old machine is exercised much better here by Miguel Abras, who – conjointly with the leader, Margarida Garcia and Manuel Mota – brings forth a whole cosmos of ectoplasmic sonorities especially typified by noticeable oscillations, persistent acute frequencies and heavy-footed pseudo rhythms.
In general, the work contains a high percentage of ritualism. Firm gestural patterns emerge from a gathering of scarcely palpable textures; a valuable recipe for rendering our system of reclusive defense a little unsteady. The muddy mix must not be perceived as a factor decreasing the overall efficiency; on the contrary, the sense of occlusion experienced while listening to the music via headphones was helpful in transforming the current pessimistic visions into pliable substances for an unidentified typology of so-called comfort.
We can’t be sure about what’s heard in a given moment; unquestionably, a copious dose of processing and filtering – in addition to a (presumed) manipulation of the speed controls – contribute to an unusual “lucid numbness” that never ceases to shield the listener from external influences. Think Pink Floyd circa Ummagumma covered by Faust, and you’re halfway there.
Interesting record. Not one for the ages, but gripping enough to justify several replays.