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Fornalha

about this release

Text by Eric Chenaux

“Talking to yourself is more about listening than speaking.”
Alice In The Cities – Wim Wenders

Fornalha sounds more like the work of an open format radio program or some Root-strata summer mix tape than a document of a guitar recital. The image of a musician as DJ is one that allows us to think about the musician as a listener, rather than a performer; listening rather than reciting.

Norberto Lobo is a mind-bending musician, strangely and effortlessly modulating psychedelic ideas to the guitar. But what is wonderful about Fornalha is how he puts all of this to work to wonder about how we hear one thing following another (montage) and how these horizontal shifts can alter our perceptions. The record moves through the listening spaces like a New Orleans processional gathering and dropping sounds, as it winds through different chambers. Bowed guitars that sound more like bright cellos, a prepared guitar that sounds like a dry plastic lute and some sweet vocal oohing reminiscent of Brian Eno’s fried-orchestral singing in Gavin Bryars’ ensemble “1,2, 1-2-3-4” make up some of this processional band.

It is how these materials are tweaked, by time and space, that makes this record so strange; how one sound or one acoustic space alters and relieves the way we listen and our memory of what we have heard. At the end of the record, following a series of lush filter swept chambers, a dry guitar comes in, playing a chromatically bent lyrical ballad - transforming what we are hearing, the space where we hear it and what we have heard; the lightest ghosts.


Available in LP, CD and digital

prices & format

LP : 13 euros buy !
CD : 10 euros buy !
digital : 7 CHF buy !

tracklist

A1. Fornalha (6'36)
A2. Maryam (5'10)
A3. Fran (5'08)
B1. Pen Ward (6'22)
B2. Eu Amo (10'40)

soundcloud

words

The New York Times
“Fran” is the album’s keeper, the song you might play for others in a blindfold test or to defeat a listener’s expectations. (It keeps defeating mine.) But the album is brave enough to open and close with long, patient pieces made for the most part by playing the guitar with a bow, scratchily, repeating chord cycles until a secondary idea emerges or a cumulative truth is squeezed out.
Full review

The Wire, dec 2014
At this point, the American Primitive guitarist that Lobo msot closely resembles is Robbie Basho. While they don'tsound much alike, both express romantic ardour with unabashed earnestness. And like Basho, Lobo seems to be following his instincts wherever they lead rather than consolidating a particular sound and sticking to it; the unifying factor is that they're using guitars to express passion rather than showcase licks

Cyclic Defrost
At the heart of Fornalha – and ultimately the reason it succeeds – are the simple melodic themes, repeated and patiently retold throughout the arrangements. Despite all the extended techniques and raw processing I’ve described, Lobo delivers the pieces with a refreshing sense of restraint and self-assurance.
Full review

Le désert rouge
L’harmonie demeure malgré la complexité des orientations stylistiques et les changements de tonalités. En une sorte de halo vibratoire, de profonde respiration, de chant intérieur qui semble alors ne faire qu’un avec celui du guitariste portugais, et dont l’album Fornalha serait comme le saisissement. Entre deux battements d’ailes – et de cœur.
Full review

Bon pour les oreilles
Moins tortueux, Fran et Pen Ward n'en sont pas moins riches, explorant avec maestria les vertus de la lenteur et de la répétition, tournant autour de motifs mélodiques délicats et hypnotiques. Et c'est peut-être dans cette sérénité virtuose que Norberto Lobo fascine le plus, entre épure et limpidité. La marque d'un grand guitariste, dont les trésors se délitent avec une douceur rare.
Full review

Rua de Baixo
33 minutos e 56 segundos de música que são pessoais e introspectivos mas que, ao mesmo tempo, estão ali, partilhados connosco. Puro génio.
Full review

Isolatarium
Stunning music from one of the world’s best. Fornalha is going to be something quite special.
Full review

Disco Digital
O nome dele é Norberto Lobo mas podia ser Arthur Russell, John Cale ou Brian Eno. Já não se trata de aperfeiçoar uma linguagem, aqui começa uma nova expedição por terra apátrida. Um lugar mágico.
Full review

Flur Discos
Mas no meio disso tudo, sente-se também aqui qualquer coisa de Arthur Russell, não por directa influência, mas porque em “Fornalha” parece mostrar-nos o caminho de alguns dos seus novos sons, que partilham em comoção alguma da sensibilidade de Russell. É mais um disco sem hierarquia na discografia de Norberto Lobo. Obra-prima atrás de obra-prima.
Full review

Kinda Musik
MHet tien minuten tellende 'Eu Amo' geldt als het eindpunt van een constante climax. Lobo's ijle stem zorgt voor een intrigerende aanvulling op een meeslepende drone, die voldoende ruimte laat voor rijke akoestische details en haast filmische sferen.
Full review

Textura
Fornalha proves once again that, in the proper hands, nothing more than imagination, creativity, and a guitar are needed to command a listener's attention.
Full review

Skug
Natürlich darf Musik berühren, wie sollte sie nicht? Aber sie soll einen ja nicht gegen den eigenen Willen vollschmusen wie die ungeliebte Tante beim Verwandtenbesuch. »Fornalha« ist keine solche Tante, sie ist eher die scheue Katze, die sich unterm Sofa versteckt und deren Vertrauen vielleicht erst einmal gewonnen sein will, bevor sie sich streicheln lässt.
Full review

Kwadratuur
Wanneer daarna alleen de contouren van het harmonisch kader overblijven, vult Lobo die op met vrijer getokkel waarbij de elektronica een handje komt toesteken, maar opnieuw zonder dat het artisanale karakter van de muziek verloren gaat en tevens zonder dat het resultaat zielig wordt: geen evidente prestatie.
Full review


credits

All songs by Norberto Lobo

Recorded and mixed by Cristiano Nunes and Eduardo Vinhas
Mastered by Julien Grandjean at Jetlag

Cover photo by Julio Duarte (Sri Lanka 1994)
Drawings by Norberto Lobo
Design by Catarina Lee

Thanks to Cristiano, Eduardo, Antonio, Catarine, Gaëtan, Alonso, Eric, ZDB