João Lobo — Nowruz (2017, three:four)
I first tuned into João Lobo’s 2017 release Nowruz on account of the album art’s similarity to the Dead C’s Patience. Not know what to expect, the moment that the opening schizophrenic and typewriter-like paradiddles hit my ears, I knew I was in for a treat. The opener, “Bahííía” combines the aforementioned frenetic wrists with incessant, paranoid bass drumming (the latter of which recalling Martin Rev’s spartan drum machine-programming in Suicide’s early material) overtop of hushed vocals (impossible to tell if it’s live or a sample). “Tardigrado” further explores the drums’ resonant possibilities and features deep, metallic soundscapes and violin-like resonant passages. “Besa” is a tinkering, playful piece with a quiet, yet expansive cadence courtesy of the kick drum. “Bakbou” is simultaneously both woody and mechanical, if you could find one of those old wind-up drumming monkeys and replace the monkey with a miniature Zach Hill, you’d have a pretty solid like-for-like representation. “Tom” and “Zé” flow seamlessly into one another and recall some cliché bohemian scene of turtledneck’d, beret wearing percussionists providing the accompaniment to some sly hipster poet. The closer, “Mynah” is awash with cymbal rolls, scrapes, and a further testing of the resonant waters. With touches of jazz, avant garde, and experimentalism throughout, Nowruz, marks a splendid debut for the Portugese. This record is best listened to with headphones, so that the listener better opens themselves up to all the wonderful subtlety and nuance of the drums, which are all too often ignored or deliberately mixed out. A solid solo debut, which should whet the interest of listeners into Lobo’s contributions elsewhere.