Review of Sings by Manuel Mota, Headlights, 2009
Seminal, isolationist, rarefied … it’s easy and difficult to find a definition for the music of this record played by the Portuguese guitarist Manuel Mota. Considered to be one of the most promising heirs of the great Derek Bailey, Mota is a brilliant and creative improviser.
In this record he looks like an architect or a designer, one of those who creates his own project or his drawing tracing fast, light and fast strokes with a soft pencil, a sign here, one there .. one looks .. doesn’t understand, another sign .. another note .. on a white space and slowly something appears .. you can see the shapes, the structures and at the end, as after a Zen awakening, the final shape appears, the sign manifests itself , the project is complete. Mota is like that. Notes scattered on a backdrop of silence, something very minimal and even intimate, a conversation with the listener apparently broken. Like snowflakes coming down from above. His music requires attention and concentration, we begin to wait for the next note, the next musical phrase. You are almost afraid to miss it. To lose that small part of the global design. Minimal. But also very strict. A structure that is above all absent and that we are discovering little by little, but only if we pay great attention, nothing is given, nothing is explicit. Surely Mota knows what he is doing and he does it very well, here nothing is left to chance and this type of improvisation is a symptom of a great job of preparation and study, a work where nothing is perceived. Moments of genius.