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«Bristling Duets» RELAY 031
«Singularity» CREATIVE SOURCES, cs705
«Asebeia» FMR, CD611-0321
«Spiracle» NOTTWO, MW1007-2

It seems that Barcelona-based, Portuguese percussionist-drummer Vasco Trilla is one of the most in-demand voices of the European free music scene. The creative and versatile Trilla recorded more than 70 albums in the last decade, most of them are free-improvised, but his sonic vision embraces art-rock, metal and contemporary music. He is mostly self-taught and says that he was influenced by the pioneering work of British Eddie Prévost and the teaching of American drummer RaKalam Bob Moses and his book «Drum Wisdom» (Modern Drumming Publications, 1984), but draws inspiration also from contemporary composer György Ligeti’s iconic «Poème symphonique for 100 Metronomes». His imaginative vision focuses on expanding the sonic horizons of his percussive instruments. Trilla favors the duo format and in recent years recorded duets with Italian-American fellow percussionist Andrea Centazzo, Polish guitarist Paweł Doskocz, Portuguese trumpeter Luis Vicente and Russian sax and electronics player Ilia Belorukov.

Trilla’s virtual duo with Chicagoan fellow percussionist, «Bristling Duets», was recorded with Daisy in Chicago and Trilla in Barcelona during the spring of 2021 but feels like these master percussionists share close aesthetics. Both Trilla and Daisy have developed their own extended techniques, both are restless sonic explorers and both know how to play with abstract sounds, and how to shape intriguing textures. In the 13 short pieces, Trilla and Daisy adopt yin-yang dynamics, contrasting each other’s sonic palette, and create profound and highly expressive, resonant conversations that shape anew the listener’s conceptions of time, motion and space. These duets highlight the infinite, seductive sounds that can be produced from wooden, skin, and metal surfaces, including gongs, bells, metronomes, bowed cymbals and most likely even more percussive objects. And Trilla and Daisy often play with matching the uncommon percussive sounds – Brazilian berimbau with industrial, spacious ambiance on «Static Points»; intense drumming with a child-like musical box on “Lectura”; disturbing the sustained, meditative gong overtones with crackling sounds on “Relay Signals” and “Eleve”; sketching an eerie portrait of a Polish town on «Poznan»; or offering wonderful percussive chaos on «Unsinkable». Can’t wait for a live meeting of these masters, stretching their unique dynamics.

The duo with Swedish sax player Per Gärdin, «Singularity», is also a virtual one, with Gärdin in Stockholm and Triila in Barcelona, and was recorded between September 2020 to March 2021. The cover art suggests the spacious, abstract ambiance of this duo. Gärdin, like Trilla, is mostly a self-taught musician who often expands his palette of sounds with electronics. Here Trilla colors and frames wisely Gärdin’s introspective sonic searches and experiments on the alto and soprano saxes with subtle dramatic touches, and suggestive, nuanced stories. Trilla injects Middle-Eastern ecstatic warmth to Gärdin’s cerebral blows on «pistis I»; introduces enigmatic, restless voice on «antistrophos»; brings game-like innocence and exotic ritualist pulse to «entekhnos»; turns «pistis II» into a muscular free jazz duel; and intensifies the meditative veins of «enthymeme II».

Trilla and Spanish sax player Liba Villavecchia collaborated in different formats in the last decade and recently recorded together in a trio with pianist Jivko Bratanov («Inner Paths», Discordian, 2020) and when the trio Hung Mung hosted Villavecchia («Chaophagous», Discordian, 2020). The duo with Liba Villavecchia was recorded at HeartWork studio in Barcelona in 2020. «Asebeia» refers to criminal charges for desecration and disrespecting of divine objects. For Trilla and Villavecchia it means that both see themselves as playing free, without rules, accepting the inevitable chaos and failure, but comforting themselves with the shared compassion that may overcome the pain, before trying, and maybe failing, again. «Asebeia» is a dynamic and powerful meeting of like-minded resourceful improvisers who are eager to challenge each other, enjoy exploring addictive rhythmic patterns, but often visit meditative and subtle terrains. Throughout the eight duets, Trilla demonstrates its versatility and alternates between acting as a driving force that intensifies Villavecchia’s ecstatic blows and an imaginative sonic alchemist that colors Villavecchia’s contemplative gestures with mysterious and resonant touches that strengthen the spiritual veins of this supposedly, irreverent but highly satisfying meeting.

«Spiracle», like «Asebeia», proves that real-life meetings are the real deal, especially when dealing with the art of the moment. Trilla’s duo with Chicagoan reeds player Mars Williams was recorded in Barcelona’s Thriller Underground Facilities in May 2019. Williams and Trilla established an immediate affinity and the five distinct pieces stress the way they move organically between sparse textures into dense and intense ones. The opening piece «Book Lung» shifts from a spacious drone, where the percussive instruments and the reeds create elusive, ethereal and resonant delicate conversations, into a muscular interplay where Williams’ sax pierce the sky while Trilla’s drums shake the ground. Williams adopts a playful melody on the following «Stigma» and takes Trilla to a passionate and energetic dance. «Atlas Moth» revolves around brief, eccentric gestures of Williams and Trilla that slowly gravitate into a heated conversation but ends as a meditative ritual. Trilla and Williams build on this meditative vein and turn «Valve» into a mysterious and almost industrial drone, ornamented by Williams’ toys, but later both land in folky territories, led by Williams’ flute. «Haemolymph» concludes this fascinating meeting of two soul brothers in a cathartic freak-out that morphs naturally into a moving farewell melody.

Eyal Hareuveni

Vasco Trilla (timpani, gongs, clock chimes, metronomes, dr), Tim Daisy (perc), Per Gärdin (as, ss), Liba Villavecchia (as), Mars Williams (reeds, toy instr)

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