Review: Sofía Salvo + Gustavo Obligado + Marcelo von Schultz – MOTOR

NENDODANGO RECORDS.

Just as a river is both a static presence on a landscape and an entity of constant flux, MOTOR melds two modes of movement into one. Sax players Sofía Salvo (baritone) and Gustavo Obligado (alto) often work in extended strands of sound – the former excavating moaning overtones from buckled foghorn blasts, the latter chopping each breath into splutters and slippery runs – with great silences hanging in between. Yet instead of throttling back accordingly, drummer Marcelo von Schultz rushes into the gaps in an outpour of hits and splashes, tumbling onto toms and tripping over rimshots, somehow finding the perfect complement to the horns through rabid disparity. The trio sound both energetically unified and in constant dispute. Such are the paradoxes only possible in free improvisation.

With no keys or bass to play the role of musical adhesive, there’s a vital precarity to the band dynamic here. Even as they shift into premeditated structures, such as on the slow, guttural stomp of “Tofu”, everything feels like it’s bouncing out of joint. It’s always a matter of time before rigidity buckles and the group return to improvisatory flow. Yet this combination of instruments also forms a zone of emptiness around each player, which not only renders each contribution in utter clarity – every snare ring, every hiss of exhalation – but also generates space for the players to act with complete autonomy; to embrace patience in the face of percussive fury, or for one horn to paint in elegant swoops as the other works in splutters and rasps, or to wedge an unexpected swing rhythm into a bout of woodwind bickering. And of course, when such radical individuality is possible, the moments of unity only feel all the more intentional and authentic.