The charismatic title of this album All The Dreams comes from a poem by the great Portuguese poet, Fernando Pessoa set to music on “Nada” by Sara Serpa and André Matos. The title itself is highly evocative in its way but nothing can quite prepare you for the music that follows. There is no wrong reason to lure listeners into the eleven-song set, which has the imaginative hand of both Serpa and Matos all over it. All of the pieces share a complete sureness in their respective musical identities – no gimmicky effects, no quotations from obscure events and phenomena, just going to the poetic essence of the music that lives and breathes in the airy guitar and bass of André Matos and the vocals – wordless or otherwise – of Sara Serpa.
This is a poet’s album and it features crepuscular contemplations and meditations on grief and forgiveness and draws on writings by Luis Amaro, the Brasilian poet Clarice Lispector and the 18th century English poet, painter and print-maker William Blake. However, the idiom is above all that of Sara Serpa and André Matos performed in a manner most personal and candid. Both Serpa and Matos examine every human emotion most poignantly the pain of abandonment, with resignation rather than histrionics, as they reach beyond mere love, mere heartbreak and into existential crisis. Some songs – such as “Calma” and “Os Outros” have cinematic shifts in instrumental colour as the words veer between imagination and hallucination, and from “Night” to Matos’ “Hino” go from darkness to bleach-out sunlight.
What sets “Calma”, “Estado De Graça”, “Água” and “Lisboa” – essentially all of the music on which Billy Mintz plays – temperamentally apart from the rest of the music is Mintz’s pulsating colourations which land in the angular, rhythmically vital world of André Matos, morphing from an eerie, lonesome folksiness into a hybrid jazzy realm for Matos’ poetic evocations of real life. Here also Sara Serpa explores the hormonal overdrive that’s a side-effect of being Portuguese and where that can take you. The dramatic arc of the performances is complete in Serpa’s “Os Outros” where all matters of the heart and the head are resolved by Serpa herself as she digs deep into her artistry and psyche resorting to breathy mannerisms to great effect.
This is a tone-and-texture-heavy recording. Naturally it is one where someone like Sara Serpa will thrive, partly due to the nature of her voice. On All The Dreams she emerges as a miniaturist who is also emotionally extremely authentic. Here she connects at a very deep level with André Matos and this results in an intoxicating instrumental and vocal brew that is hard to define and yet one in which the essential emotions of humanity exquisitely in evidence.
Track List – 1: Calma; 2: A La Montagne; 3: Estado De Graça; 4: Story Of A Horse; 5: Programa; 6: Água; Nada; 7: Night; 8: Hino; 9: Lisboa; 10: Espelho; 11: Os Outros; 12: Postlude; amlaC
Personnel – Sara Serpa: vocals, piano (5, 9, 10), Fender Rhodes (4, 7); André Matos: guitar, electric bass (1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10-12); percussion (11); Pete Rende: synthesizer (1, 4, 14); drums and percussion (1, 3, 6, 10)
Released – 2016
Label – Sunnyside Records
Running time – 43:32