Jul 26 2017
It’s remarkable how much the sound of Masaa has expanded over the course of three albums even as they drill down on the basic elements that embody the heart of the trio. Rabih Lahoud, already bridging the expanse between Lebanese music and European jazz, expands his lexicon by incorporating French, German and English vocals into their new album Outspoken. The trio of trumpeter Marcus Rust, pianist Clemens Christian Pötzsch and drummer Demian Kappenstein bring a huge presence to their music, which isn’t new, but the consistency of its application certainly is. It also comes off as far more relaxed, reflecting an increased comfort with the inner workings of the quartet. It’s an effect that leads to an even richer personality.
“Ta Voix” has the pulse of a street vendor scene, and by incorporating both the literal sounds of the streets and a tone that is quiet as a whisper, a shout above the crowd, and the many textures in between, the quartet captures the spirit of the scene both literally and metaphorically. “Natra” is a mainline to the heart, embodying the beauty of sunrises over the mountains, sunsets over the water, the stars on a cloudless night, and all of the countless, far too few moments when life feels exactly as it was meant to be and your heart can barely contain the joy from the experience.
That way in which voice and trumpet run melodic lines in parallel and an intricate weave, and how piano traces the pattern of each while giving the melody a shape of its own, and that way in which percussion conjures up a storm that transforms a focused intensity into comforting whisper, this is the context of the drama this band is able to effortlessly generate and the dividends of its nuanced approach to melodic imagery and rhythmic dialog. It’s how it all comes together.
Anyways, this was one of my Best of Bandcamp selections back when the album was released in May, but I wanted to get the spotlight on it again here on Bird is the Worm. It also provides the opportunity to mention that Afkar, Masaa’s last album, earned the #9 slot on this site’s Best of 2014 list (go check it out).
Your album personnel: Rabih Lahoud (vocals), Marcus Rust (flugelhorn, trumpet), Clemens Christian Pötzsch (piano) and Demian Kappenstein (drums, percussion).
Released on Traumton Records.
Listen to more of the album on the label’s Bandcamp page.
Music from Berlin, Germany.