Longitude

 

 

It's a discreet record, both in the cover and in what it covers, practically without any mention or reference, if we except the four spheres saying «Sound», «Mind», «Time» and «Voyage», surrounding a fifth that says «Music».
If the cover doesn't have many words, the music inside doesn't have any words at all: just seven impressionist and electro-acoustic compositions, synthetic sounds generated by the manipulation and combination of several digital artefacts. Since it doesn't really deal with «instruments», this music isn't exactly what you'd call «instrumental». Although it plays with a powerful sense of rhythm, it still isn't what you'd call «dance music»: besides, the rhythm unwinds to the placid 82 beats per minute in the last theme, «Longitude», that lasts for eleven and a half minutes. It is, in sum, a rather unexpected record - among its kind, and coming from this particular author. Gabriel Gomes, the former accordion player in Madredeus, has been very active since he quit the band - namely with the production of the second album from the Danças Ocultas quartet, the production, with Rodrigo Leão, of the album «Entre Nós e as Palavras» («Between Us and the Words», signed by Os Poetas - The Poets), and, more recently, with the studio sessions for the forthcoming new album from Sétima Legião. He prefers to look at this «Projecto OM» as an experience, or a side project in his career. Whatever it is, he will be presenting it live next Monday at Armazéns Abel Pereira da Fonseca, at the final night for the «Mergulho no Futuro» Festival.

Jorge P. Pires
- In a recent interview, you've said that this is a fine way to make music all alone. The fact is people would be expecting another kind of album, and another kind of music, from the former accordion player in Madredeus. Instead, you've ventured into a whole different approach...
Gabriel Gomes - I've always been like that, always loved adventures. But my attitude is not exactly to «be alone, have the power, have the machines, do whatever I feel like with it». It has more to do with a solipsist phase in the life of any musician, even if he plays with others. A phase in which all that seems to matter is to be alive and be musician. The technology that exists nowadays able us to turn the quest for a sound into something very concrete, very physical. This album, and the «Projecto Om» is the space I've created to put that personal adventure into practice, in a way that surprised even myself.
JPP - Was there a pause between the time when you started working with this machinery and the time you started making music with it?
GG - Yes there was. I started to deal with this machines, studying the ways they work, when I was in two different bands - Sétima Legião and Madredeus - where the method of composition was essentially collective. In those days, as you well know, I didn't have the time to create some project of my own and be able to put it in practice. One can slowly create some musical themes, but it takes at least two or three months to turn that into a solid project. That was totally out of the question, by that time: we were always travelling very fast, with very few, very short and very unstable periods of time-out. That situation doesn't allow you to work on a side project, you can not afford to mix everything up. But, by that time, my suitcases were always half packed with clothes, and the other half with electronics. I had to take something with me, to be able to fax someone on my own, to practice or record something that comes up on your mind when you're walking on a distant town of some other country. I had a portable Macintosh for my MIDI programming, but sometimes I'd use it to record some musical idea, as any musician does.
But when you start exploring the machine's capabilities, it's just inevitable that you will end up doing something with it. What I'm really not capable of is to have the machines and do nothing. So, basically there are two initial approaches: either you work in a way that the machine will sound «acoustic», or you use it to make your acoustical instruments sound «like machines»...
JPP - Either way, this type of music also turns the musician into someone more dependant of technology, and the conditions it requires...
GG - Yes. It's just that I'm not so techno-dependant - I play accordion, really. That's one of the reasons why I called this record «Longitude». The other reason being that it can be listened to from track 1 to track 8, or inversely: in the first case the rhythm breaks down, in the second it speeds up. It's very environmental, really...
JPP - What kind of environment are we talking here?
GG - It's a portuguese environment. It has a great deal of my most personal sides. Since I'm portuguese, it can't be nothing but portuguese.
JPP - Even when it has a «Bonsai»?
GG - Even when it has a «Bonsai». The most ambiental theme is the last one, named, precisely, «Longitude». It has a beat that could have come from Alentejo, and the sound of a sythar above it. It has an horizon... It's a portuguese environment - comes from one place, goes to another, no one knows where it starts or where it will end. The best way to describe the medium in which this music can grow is «electro-ambiental».
JPP - How are you planning to present it live?
GG - I'm working on some different arrangements, better than those in the record, I presume; the effects will be triggered by the machines, in real time. That's a great challenge to me. In a way, it goes well within the «new tendencies» announced by the festival - nevertheless, although Projecto OM has been identified with «Goa Trance», the truth is that it doesn't have much to do with it, nor does it work very well on the dance floor. It's a very different thing - a landscape, an horizon, a transition between the dance floor and «ambient music».
JPP - So, was this what you wanted to do when you were still with Madredeus?
GG - No. In Madredeus what I wanted to do was to make Teresa sing. At the beginning, when I left the group, I felt some dose of fear, I was a bit afraid of showing this music of mine, because some people still look at it sideways. But the truth is that the first thing I made at home, after quitting the band, was my solo accordion album. Then it was «Os Poetas». This one came in third place.
JPP - What happened to that solo accordion album?
GG - It is composed, it has been played, but I don't know how or when it will be published.It's a very special project to me, because that's the music that any person who has been travelling around the globe with Madredeus has kept at home, after some years. As Carlos Maria Trindade and José Peixoto have done recently, as Pedro may do in the future. This «Longitude» is not exactly a solo album, it's more like a solo production with my own sound design. What I really like to do is to play with other people - and I will. It's just that nowadays I have a more self-sufficient and more careful attitude. Besides, having published this album doesn't make more or less sensitive to other kinds of music.

J.P.Pires

from the site Madredeus - O Porto - http://go.to/madredeus