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Luís Lopes' Humanization 4tet - Electricity

Jason Bivins, Signal To Noise

One of the most sheerly joyful bands to emerge in recent memory, this combo - guitarist Luís Lopes, tenor ace Rodrigo Amado, and Aaron and Stefan González on bass and drums respectively – delivers one helluva sophomore record on this aptly titled disc. As good as the band sounded on their Clean Feed debut, they are simply on fire here, with the brothers Gonzalez sounding as good as I’ve ever heard them. It’s terrific from start to finish, tight and well-paced, with invention, smarts, and heart in the right balence. The material ranges from textural free ballads to skronk fury to dirty, gnarly swing and outrageous funk raveups. And on tne opening “Dehumanization Blues” they summon up that kind of range in the space of one piece, suggesting some weird amalgam of  Blood Ulmer, 1970s Braxton, and the opening to “Meeting of the Spirits.” Throughout, Amado turns in several churning solos, both graceful and muscular. And Lopes ranges from soaring lines to flinty skronk to sheer noisy howls. They take in jaunty harmolodics via the Vandermark 5 on “Jungle Gymnastics” and “Procurei-te na Noite”, and establish limber, confident funk counterpoint on “Two Girls”. And they can move seam-lessly from these areas into mournful space (“Effigy”) or even all the way into the floating world, as with the droning, rich tonality of “Eavesdropper (for Dennis González)”. Fittingly, the piece ends with a long pause that’s picked up into the funky shuffle of “Ruas Sentimentais”. An eager, exploratory band and just a superb record.