Rodrigo Leão – O Método

Electronic ambient sounds were part of the influence of Portuguese pianist and composer Rodrigo Leão for his new album “O Método”, which was released late last month. As was the music of Nils Frahm whose work ethos and moods sometimes pop up here as well. But this is no copy, no cheap cover of anything, but rather a beautiful journey into the minds and spheres of Leão and his producers Pedro Oliveira and Joao Eleutério as well as Italian composer Federico Albanese.

Rodrigo Leao "O Método"

There is a breathtakingly wonderful sort-of lullaby, sung by a choir in sweetest fashion (“A Bailarina”), neo-classical elements with a thick string cushion and almost movie score-fashioned, sparse melodies (title track), and also more melancholy on one of the few vocals here. Casper Clausen of Efterklang sings “The Boy Inside” in what could be described as an English version of saudade. The Nils Frahm influence is maybe best heard on the eerie “Transporte”, an almost naive sounding composition which evolves into something with a lot of depth after a few listens.

Some of the songs are sung with made-up words, sounding like something vaguely Japanese with some Russian thrown in, as in “Red Poem” which carries a lot of weight in the form of maybe a tad too much pathos. “O Cigarro” is sung by Viviena Tupikova, in real Russian this time and with another melancholy stance that suits the overall atmosphere of the album pretty well. The dark and somber mood continues on other tracks, such as “Loutolim”, which has some mournful choir added to its short interlude, and the piece “Dresden”, where the shape of the album was initially formed. And the shape continues to be a minimalist, ambient one on bonus tracks “Lula Mistério” which comes along with a nice dose of drama, and “Parte 1”, a poignant finale which somehow reminds me of the late great Lyle Mays with its ethereal beauty.

Rodrigo Leão will play the music from “O Método” live in Caldas da Rainha (Centro Cultural e de Congressos, March 7th), Porto (Casa da Música, March 9th), and Madrid (Teatro Nuevo Apolo, May 12th).

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