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Space Quartet | Last Set

Space Quartet | Last Set

You can listen and buy the record on Rafael Toral’s bandcamp page.

In a review of one of Rafael Toral’s records, I wrote that I always missed his live concerts. This one couldn’t fail!
I saw this quartet at Out.Fest, on June 3, 2021, and wrote about the concert. Writing about this record is reliving the moment, with the necessary distance to listen to it more carefully, go into detail and re-enter the world of Rafael Toral. Listening to the record gives me the freedom to go back and forth, to capture that moment when Nuno Morão made an important detail that I had missed live. Yes, believe that Nuno Morão playing live has these things. He dialogues so well that only on the records I realize absolutely incredible things. One of the drummers I most enjoy listening live in the improvisation scene.

This quartet has its own energy and Toral has a lot of weight in this matter. To enter their world is to allow our head to embark on a complex journey, with different languages ​​that we don’t always master. It’s learning about expansion and containment, fluidity and resistance.

I’m starting to listen and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look forward to the entry of Rafael Toral’s electronics. The conversation between the double bass and the saxophone opens the record and we slowly begin to let ourselves be led. I remain very attentive to Hugo Antunes’ double bass, but today I pay more attention to details of Nuno Torres’ saxophone. Nuno Morão unites moments, interconnects stations we pass through on this record’s journey.

The trip lasts 1 hour and takes me to places I didn’t go to in the live concert. Between the ground floor and space, we never sat down waiting for the next transport. On Toral’s records there is always a story of parallel universes, different dimensions, realities that intersect and interconnect.

On this record the common thread is clear, the dialogue between the 4 musicians is fluid and there is no moment in which they get lost and fail to keep up the conversation.

A very close person told me a few years ago: “Don’t want to get to the end result right away, learn to enjoy the process”. Between the live concert and this record, 2 years passed. Now I hear it differently, with the right distance, and it continues to enter my ears with the same delicacy and beauty. It’s like I just sat in that auditorium on June 3, 2021.

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Live in Lisbon by Hilmar Jensson, Rafael Toral

Live in Lisbon by Hilmar Jensson, Rafael Toral

You can listen here.

A record with Rafael Toral. What more needs to be said? It’s simple: just like cooking with the right ingredients and an experienced hand, the result can only be delicious.

And that is exactly the result of this duo. Tasty!

Sensitive to what the other feels, attentive to what moves them. Two distinct realities that intersect and form one.

Hilmar Jensson was a stranger to me until I heard this record. And that’s how I started my discovery about his musical world. An Icelandic with a warm and molded sound. A guitar that transports us to Rafael Toral’s electronic space.

A single track. Forty-six minutes and forty-six seconds of abstraction. On a day when the clouds hid the sun, when the hustle and bustle of passers-by bothers our inner peace, nothing like putting the record on and disconnecting from our reality. Letting ourselves be carried away to other places, other realities, other scenarios. And in that, Toral is a master. He is the master of many of my journeys both mentally and on paper. The ease of taking me to space without needing special suits and then being in the Amazon rainforest is so great that it makes my brain’s electrical stimuli feel good.

I flow between feeling rational and cerebral to feeling emotional and inexplicable.

Once again I found myself asking: “But where have I been that I miss going to a series of concerts in Lisbon that would fill me with good energy”.

This record is a must have and listen to, but live the charm must be even greater. I like that. More than a good album, I like not to be disappointed when I listen to live projects. And a good live recording has these things, it brings with it a regret of having missed the presence.

I’m extremely sensitive to certain high frequencies (high-pitched sounds) and that’s why my, so mentioned in other texts, difficulty in dealing with certain wind instruments, and on this album there is a moment that awakens that small moment of shiver in me. It’s not a shudder that I know well, but when it happens I’m perfectly aware that the problem is me and my fragility at certain frequencies. Not that it causes me pain but it awakens in me a certain animosity towards the sound. I decided to go see what this passage is and it only lasts two seconds. I’ve been training my ear to deal better with high frequencies and with each passing day I react better to it. And before I know it, I’m already at thirty-two minutes and the record is approaching the end too quickly.

An intense journey between the rational and the spiritual, between space and the Earth, in a game of perceptions that sharpens our senses and makes us want to be part of this vast universe that was created between Portugal and Iceland.

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Rafael Toral | Live in Lisbon

Rafael Toral | Live in Lisbon

You can listen here.

Label | Noise Precision Library

Rafael Toral needs no introduction, but Rafael Toral with Tatsuya Nakatani and John Edwards is a record that deserves not a presentation but a highlight in the sound library of any of us.

The record “Live in Lisbon” was recorded in 2009. It is the result of three concerts together (one in Lisbon and two in Cascais). And what a result! Engaging, penetrating and that takes me to other places despite sitting comfortably on my sofa.

Long and full of sound refinements. No desire to rush the audition. It takes time.

For those who complain as much as I do about the lack of time, this is an album that makes us experience time in a different way. No running around, no listening just for the sake of listening, no rushing to go somewhere. It is for me a record with no defined time.

But if you need to know how long you should have to listen to it, here you go. You will need two hours. But if you really, really want to hear it well, it’s two hours each time you listen to it, times a considerable number of listenings. I advise you to listen to it many times. Why? Because you deserve it! Because it’s so good that it deserves us to stop the frenzy and let ourselves go between notes and ambiences. Between tensions and imbalances.

Tatsuya Nakatani is surprising and intense. It’s short and long. It is sound and silence. And of course John Edwards’ double bass is perfect in this trio.

Rafael Toral’s electronics fill our space and sometimes transport us to different planets in a wave of an alien nature.

It’s hard to describe where your head goes during the first track. From Japan to Mars, from the rings of Saturn to the Sete Rios train station in Lisbon. From the peace of the jacarandas in bloom to the hustle and bustle of everyday life in any city dweller. It is through these realities and imaginaries that I move, sometimes at a fast pace, sometimes at a slow and time-consuming pace.

Almost twenty-two minutes into the journey there is a cough that brings me back to the reality of the live concert. I came back from Saturn and landed on Culturgest. And it’s good that I landed but quickly returned to a herd rushing through a savannah.

In fifty-one minutes and fifty-six seconds I went to so many places, felt so many things and experienced moments of extreme pleasure.

Me in my living room, with headphones and a smile on my face.

The dialogue between the three is intense and assertive, sometimes spontaneous, sometimes concerted. Slowly we will feel the dynamics growing and the peak is approaching strong and striking.

Live in Cascais I it’s a new dialog. More tense and darker. Which makes us dizzy and hold our breath for a few moments.

At twenty-seven minutes a rush sets in, the heartbeat accelerates and we are agitated, anxious to get somewhere that will bring us a brief moment to breathe.

Imagine a train journey between Lisbon and Cascais I. You have just left Lisbon where time was not important, where a peace reigned – which we can say rural and quite imaginary in the city – and where tension sets in on the journey between the two points. and the anxiety of arriving. In which time runs and the dialogue intensifies.

That’s what I feel between the first and second tracks on the album. Everything intensifies. Everything becomes more interesting.

And the next thing I know, the applause announces that we are about to enter Cascais II. Calm returns, tension is relieved and gives way to a moment in which three exceptional musicians breathe between sounds and phrases in a mutual and fluid understanding.

Cascais II is the perfect closing of an excellent disc. It’s feeling like we want to go back to Lisbon and start the journey all over again.


Tatsuya Nakatani – Drums and Percussion
John Edwards – Double Bass
Rafael Toral – Electronic Instruments

Thanks to: Pedro Costa