I lean back and let this one float over me — solo piano, hovering somewhere between dissonance and enlightenment, like Scriabin in his most pensive moments (maybe “Vers La Flamme”), clawing at unconventional tonalities while keeping a few fingers in a consonant headspace we can all sink into. Portuguese composer Tiago Sousa’s 33 minutes of Samsara take us down an aural passageway through life to death to rebirth to life to death to rebirth, each milestone audible in delicate upper-register phrases or left-hand block chords or accelerating swells through emotional ivory territories. One might not expect to find such work on wax within the realm of the “drone/avant/experimental” underground, yet here Sousa sits, pressing the sustain pedal gently, breathing and sighing in pauses between rhythms. Unsurprisingly, Immune Recordings backs this beauty — which, though more stripped-down in terms of instrumentation and atmosphere, fits neatly in the catalog alongside the crystalline sonics of Minamo and Lawrence English or Pulse Emitter.
Samsara is available now on LP and CD. Put it on your turntable and it won’t be hard to imagine Sousa right there next to you. He bends over the piano, closes his eyes, and ekes out a musical vision of the afterlife (and beforelife [and life]); you roll up the blinds, recline, and see what you can see of the sky.