Sao Paris – Lá (F Communications/Creative Vibes)

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Combining minimal beats, glitchy soundscapes, guitar, scattered vocals and environmental recordings Sao Paris’ second album Lá attempts a long gallop across a vast musical terrain. Reportedly made as a soundtrack to a global journey, one is left with the impression it was a lengthy one with many, many stops.

Sao Paris combines the talents of Leticia Maura and Thomas Ferrière and draws heavily upon their respective Brazilian and French heritage, with most tracks on Lá liberally sprinkled with English, French and Portuguese spoken word.

Unfortunately I am a language philistine and so cannot discuss either the French or Portuguese content, however if the English lyrics are anything to go by, this aspect of Sao Paris’ work is not their strong point.

The frightfully cheesy “Sao Paolo’, for example, features Maura singing: “At midnight I wake up to fly between dark and light, at midnight I meet lots of kids in the sky,” over background sounds of children playing.

In fact the duo’ use of environmental recordings must be underlined as an especially weak aspect of this album as the rain storms and footsteps in “Gato’ and “Last Dreams’ manage to give even the children of “Sao Paolo’ a run for their money in the ill advised addition stakes.

Thankfully, however, there is respite from such sugary Café Del Mar type goo with tracks like
“Wong’, “Musique Box’, “Piano Class’ and “Dialog’ offering a glimpse of the potential of Sao Paris’ Brazilian inflected electroncia.

In “Wong’ and “Musique Box’ the duo punctuate impressive soundscapes of abstract bumps and shimmering reverb-laden washes with stuttering clicks and tones of white noise and interference.

“Piano Class’ features one the group’ few successful uses of field recordings, blending a Portuguese conversation and chirping birds with heaving strings and bursts of keys, while “Dialog’, possibly the album’ most experimental track, utilises industrial inflected clatter in a discordant panoply of noise mixed with what could well be the sound of the slapping of wet terracotta pots.

Despite these successes however, Lá remains an uneven and patchy release. To my mind Sao Paris would benefit greatly from limiting their use of vocals, which feature prominently on almost every track, in favour of giving greater room to their more subtle and experimental electronic soundscapes.

Kate Carr

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