The rock solid grooves of Tiago Sousa’s “Samsara” never get placated far from improvisation in its purest form. Making honey out of mud, the heavily weighted keys, pressing ever-tentatively on and sounding like dodged bullets, Tiago stretches his improvisational legs for up to 15 minutes in one track, however the entire piece is one of consistency – it’s fully live, discords, sharp and flat scale edging, minors and majors included.
The paradox of this disc is that it sometimes passes like an agonizingly slow death, yet this countenance is what brings new life. The concept for the album, I found later reading about it, is of the life/death/life nature similarly commented on by Jungian psychoanalyst Clarissa Pinkola-Estes. What is pertinent throughout Sousa’s playing is his talent for melodic curveballs fusing with speeded up/slowed down piano power, forced towards the clouds and cutting through to space. The only thing keeping these melodies down is the inherent gravity, and confluence of ideas, making sense before realms of post-listening philosophy.
“Samsara” is as much about exploring un-themes of heartbreak – it comes solely through the music and no foreword – and the utility of clusters as a way to tumble-dry tears away from centrality. Sousa transforms the moving requirements and conduits of humaness – originally like jumper fluff: unsavoury deposit instead of warming cuddle – and respins it with knitting needles of piano to be unrestrictedly attracting. The notes have a kind of automatic collision detection, and like all manner of safety devices in 21st century history, these become worn down like an ageing dressing gown: possessing its original intention, but wildered by human nature as a means to an end.
The obvious comparison one could make for Tiago Sousa is Nils Frahm – that crystalline timbre and fingering technique is equally warm and engrossing – but a better likeness lies further back in time, in the form of Jazz pianist Keith Jarrett. “The Koln Concert (1975)” is equally essential listening to these four tracks, labelled I-IV, and like the best kept secrets, I highly anticipate what Tiago Sousa is going to do next. He will tour Europe in support of “Samsara” – I dearly advise you to find out where he’s playing and then plan your trip ahead.