«Inner Voices» is the first solo album by Portuguese prolific sax player, composer, bandleader and The Phonogram Unit label co-founder José Lencastre and the first one to be released by an American label, Burning Ambulance. Lencastre Quintet played in the Burning Ambulance Festival, a five-hour concert that streamed online on New Year’s Day and this performance led to the release of «Inner Voices».
Lencastre created «Inner Voices» with producer and electronic musician Ary between September 2020 to Match 2021 at Toolate Studio where he recorded many previous albums. Lencastre overdubbed multiple alto and tenor sax lines, and enhanced his music through judicious use of echo, reverb and EQ, and interacting with live electronics in real-time, and eventually used the studio space as a key instrument. You can trace the seminal influence of the World Saxophone Quartet on Lencastre, especially WSQ’s «Dances and Ballads and Rhythm and Blues» (Elektra Nonesuch, 1987, 1989), and realize how well-versed Lencastre is in the works of Julius Hemphill, Oliver Lake, David Murray and Hamiet Bluiett and their concise, polyphonic sax songs. But Lencastre is not bound by the Afro-American legacy of jazz, and his music incorporates and interacts naturally with live electronics and other studio effects.
«Medicina» adopts a folk-like melody and the 16-minute «Whale Talk» is the most complex and dramatic piece here. Lencastre sounds as if conversing with real, cyclical songs of humpback whales and imaginary songs of futurist creatures and answers these songs with touching, compassionate songs of his own. The last «Moonlit Meadows» is the most abstract piece here, sounding like a meditative and mysterious ritual, highlighting the unique voice of Lencastre as a sax player, composer and sonic conceptualist.
«Magma» features Lencstre in a trio with Brazlian bassist Felipe Zenícola (who plays in Paal Nilssen-Love New Brazilian Funk) and fellow Portuguese drummer João Valinho. The three musicians recorded on the same date in Lisbon in December 2019 the album «Anthropic Neglect» (Clean Feed, 2020) with guitarist Jorge Nuno. The music is free improvised and has the same powerful pyroclastic flow of «Anthropic Neglect». The trio methodically fortifies its stormy power and barely contains it, as if Zenicola, Valinho and Lencastre are about to erupt anytime with brutal assaults, but surprisingly and organically spicing their rough attacks with raw lyricism. Finally, in the last piece «Marga II» the trio unleashes some of its power reserves but mid-piece opts for a sparse, lyrical coda.
José Lencastre (as, ts), Ary (sound design, Moog Sonic 6, real-time effects, modular synth), Felipe Zenícola (el.b), João Valinho (dr)