Label: Rvng Intl.
Sharing their vision over lengthy living room guitar sessions and evenings of cold wine in Fado taverns, Gunn and Cooper created Cantos de Lisboa, an album with variable vernacular shades and musical forms from Portugal’s antiquity. Cantos means “corner” in Portuguese, as well as “chant” or “song” (this latter meaning evolved from the Latin antecedent referring to stanzas of verse in poetry). For two artists whose roots lie in the country blues and its subverted offshoots, the proverbial “corner” is actually home, the undisturbed spot where music can flourish. A tranquil interlude for these two travelers to create off-guard improvisations in their shared style of deconstructed guitar music, Cantos de Lisboa is a curious detail in the periphery of this snapshot of Portugal. In his fifty-year-plus career, Cooper’s global ventures have transported his music to exotic locales parallel to Lisbon. 2004′s Rayon Hula musically translated the patterned flora of aloha shirts (Cooper’s signature garment) as looped samples of famed Hawaiian vibraphone player Arthur Lyman for an avant vivified form of exotica. Rayon Hula signaled Cooper’s vital re-emergence as a dexterous alchemist of slide guitar. Cooper’s discography is colored with similar instances of casually conceptual, improvisatory guitar music, including his 1970 masterpiece Trout Steel (an album Gunn recalls in Cantos de Lisboa’s liner notes as shaping his own ambitions and music). For his part, Gunn’s path to Portugal was compelled by his kinship to Cooper and his ilk’s experimentation with guitar-picked country blues and 70s British folk. Gunn’s extracurricular immersion in free jazz and psychedelia, no doubt influenced by his Philadelphia upbringing and surroundings, ensures his playing never grits or grids and always soars to ecstatic heights.