If you know anything of guitarist/composer Fabiano do Nascimento’s significant back catalogue you will be expecting his new album ‘Das Nuvens‘ to be impressive. Each release from his debut ‘Dança Dos Tempos’ in 2015 onwards has shown: his accomplished instrumental touch, whether on seven, twelve or oktav guitar; his intuitive feel for classic Brazilian music, from the legendary bossa of Leny Andrade to Arthur Verocai’s lush orchestrations; and a sense of purpose which drives his compositional clarity. Well ‘Das Nuvens’, available now on LA’s Leaving Records, more than continues the Nascimento tradition to deliver but with the additional subtle twist.
After a flurry of five albums for the global beat connoisseurs Now Again his cross-town shift to Leaving Records is greeted by a nudge towards something more experimental and intriguingly ambient. The threads of Brazilian pop and bossa are still part of the Nascimento tapestry but used more for shading rather than definition. On ‘Das Nuvens’ there is an emphasis on the whole soundscape above individual instrumentation, on relaxed hypnotic pulses rather than criss-crossing latin rhythms and on exploring the endless possibilities of fusion music.
Opener Babel introduces the consequences of Nascimento’s deeper focus on fluidity and open horizons. Winding around a meditative guitar chime and smoothly undulating bass fills, the tune gently ascends on a soft rhumba dubstep. The layering is intricate without over-complication, the occasional synth flutter and hiss adding mystery to the climb. A similar thermal glide drifts through the album’s title track, where soft padding electro beats and minimal chord strides suggest nu-samba dynamics. With a hint of Thundercat vamping at ground level and Fabiano’s harmonics arcing the notes skywards, there’s an airborne perspective here that connects with the title ‘Das Nuvens’ (which means ‘From the Clouds’). Even the sub-dub granulation and gradual dispersion of the beats in the outplay sounds so natural and organic.
Nascimento’s interest in the impressionistic and atmospheric provides a nurturing undercurrent throughout ‘Das Nuvens’. Stranger Nights sets a trickling acoustic guitar pattern within a slow procession of advancing synths and stoic drum beats until pace picks up as the crescendo builds. This is graphic, widescreen, big music, Fabiano do Nascimento style. Less dramatic but equally visual, the immersive Aurora swells from a sleepy drone to a vibrant flourish of swirling chords and distant percussive pops. It’s music that recalls the touch of Christian Fennesz, where you catch different details each time, a horn’s call, a gurgle of breath, and aesthetically the track’s very much in tune with the centrifugal ambience of Matthewdavid’s Leaving imprint.
The vision and creative ingenuity to assimilate flowing electronica and more conventional guitar-based vibes with such continuity highlights the achievement of Nascimento and his co-musician/producer Daniel Santiago on ‘Das Nuvens’. ThrdWrld sees the electronic and acoustic elements roll in a folky tumble as the twinkling tides ebb and flow with a Four Tet/’Rounds’ sense of earthy momentum. Talking pastoral, the nylon string plucking of Train to Imagination eases from a light locomotive shuffle to a place where the angles are more jazz and the beats more fractious. Then there’s the ticking urgency of Yûgen, where the minimal codes of the guitar loop, accelerated heartbeat tempo and waves of migrating synths on the long fade, leave you thinking that you’ve been somewhere but you are not sure where.
Frequently Zen-like and wholesome may cover some of the aspects of ‘Das Nuvens’ but it doesn’t highlight the groove-based soul of Nascimento’s music here. Take Eterno with it’s r n’b echoes, accented broken beats and spacey keyboard melody (plus don’t miss those mind scrambling guitar glissando’s along the way). Leaning more to nu-jazz but no less dynamic, Amoroso takes a stripped back trail of guitar harmonics and live percussive conversations to lure you into some seductive corner. But perhaps it’s electro-funk simplicity of 3 Pontas that best emphasises the pop sensibilities which Nascimento carries with him. A joyful bounce with a near-grinding bass throb that loosens up around lo-fi keys, eighties synth flurries and snare echoes, any extended version should be destined for the most discerning DJ turntables.
Sometimes albums like ‘Das Nuvens’ can slip beneath the radar because the innovation is intricate, the messaging nuanced and the impact more gradual. That would be an undeserving fate for a release that fizzes with musicality and communicates with heart. You can sense that from here Fabiano do Nascimento’s next step could be even more significant so taking early notice makes sense and anyways brings its own real rewards.
Get your copy of ‘Das Nuvens’ by Fabiano do Nascimento from your local record store or direct from Leaving Records HERE