Norberto Lobo
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Norberto Lobo

Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal | INDIE

Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal | INDIE
Band Folk Acoustic

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Okay so maybe like a lot of you, I’ve got a thing for well-executed acoustic soloing. I was humming along, minding my own business, when out of the sky drops this CD by this Portuguese musician whose name I’d never heard. When I read the name Norberto Lobo, I thought first of my dad’s record collection, overflowing with Lobo LPs to my childish distaste. Okay, wrong preconception—but maybe otherwise I thought, “Portugal, huh…what is this, world music?” Don’t hold it against me—I’ve listened to Lobo’s new album “Pata Lenta” enough times to be completely shaken of any conceptions of kitsch or otherwise fleeting quality. “Pata Lenta” is a solid gold brick of Lobo’s fine-tuned talent enmeshed with an unmistakable channel into his own emotions. Each track is a different shade of this man’s personality, and by the end, there’s no question that Norberto Lobo is a man of great depth, both of culture and emotion—and also one of the finest guitarists I’ve heard in a while.

I’ll be honest: my favorite part about this album is still the technical capacity that Lobo has on display here. As any guitarist knows, it can be difficult to keep a steady rhythm, pluck each string without a mis-step, and keep your tune going in the right direction all at the same time. A tune like “Pata Lenta”, the first one on the disc, is a perfect example of Lobo’s mastery over his instrument. This song is nearly five minutes, and for the entire time it’s a high-energy ride through several cultures musical histories. Lobo blends Mediterranean and Latin flavors with some unmistakably North American influences, and it comes out a total thrill. I think I replayed the first track about a dozen times before ever listening to anything after it. It’s simply amazing in execution and in composition (or improvisation—I suspect there is a bit of both happening here). Other songs on this album exhibit a similar attention to technical detail, but for me the title track is simply the pinnacle of this man’s musical appeal.

And while “Pata Lenta” is brimming with skillful execution, don’t think that means Norberto Lobo is lacking in the emotions department. The music never comes off lifeless, but rather I feel it beginning to seep into my own life to narrate recent events that I’ve experienced first-hand. Maybe that mean’s I’m vacuous and easily-affected, or perhaps it just means that Lobo’s music is so universally identifiable as a powerful expression of humanity. Things are not all up, up, up, though. Inside these moments of sweetness, he weaves also strands of chaos, in which things become atonal, rapid, and nearly cacophonous. It is certainly a dialogue of feelings here on “Pata Lenta”. Often inside of a single song, he goes from sugary harmonies to a controlled frenzy of atonality. The previous melodies can dissolve from before us in a blink, to leave only the rhythm, and it seems whatever notes that the artist happens upon (sometimes it does in fact feel random and entirely improvised). Lobo even becomes a bit overtly dark and mysterious at times, with the track “Zumbido Azedo” (translated to “Buzz Sour”), two minutes that lie barren with the exception of some gargantuan, raucous string-slides and a few notes plucked in between. Even my least-anticipated track “Unravel” (originally an Icelandic tune), turns out to be a beautifully-interpreted number. Actually on that one there are times when I can so clearly hear Lobo’s fingernails against the flesh of the strings, and I feel like hands are reaching through my woofers into my living space. It’s ALIVE!

“Pata Lenta” is an accomplishment for Norberto Lobo. So seldom can a single musician pick up a single instrument, and in only one pass write and perform such a full-sounding piece of artistry. Apparently there are so few artists capable of this that today we still have new people re-interpreting two-hundred-year-old piano works every year! Lobo may have borrowed from those long-decaying composers, but everything on this album is his own composition, his own feelings. The entirely new and unique “Pata Lenta” ranges in texture, pace, and cultural influence, but one thing remains constant always—Lobo’s human nature gushing forth all over the room. Skip to whatever track you want, and there he is, telling you a story with six strings, and don’t doubt that it’s true—he doesn’t even look like the kind of guy capable of telling a lie. And I couldn’t be more honest in giving this one 11 out of 10. Well, I’ll play by the rules. But seriously, don’t miss this. Modern acoustic speech has never been this poetic. 10/10 - Foxy Digitalis (Michael Jantz)


The second solo release by Portuguese guitarist Norberto Lobo is a varied affair. He uses both six and twelve strings to explore an array of styles, and the album ranges from romantic to atonal, showing Lobo at home with both.

“Marquise Quantica,” “Do Alto Da Faia” and the odd choice of Bjork’s “Unravel” have a richness of tone and a confidence of ambition that give them a classic feel. Lobo has obviously lived with his instruments a long time, and he knows when he can tap them for extra depth. Underlying all adventures, as is usually the case with visionary guitarists, is the blues. The Delta provides the foundation for even his more Caribbean-derived songs.

Lobo has played with the likes of Rhys Chatham, Gary Lucas and Devendra Banhart, but here he keeps his sound closer to home, toward home with his sound, often evoking that sad but eternal tone that the Spanish call Duende. And, for all its dexterity, Pata Lenta, is not a show-off piece. Lobo clearly has absorbed the soul of several genres. By stripping them down and limiting himself to only an acoustic guitar, he has bared the soul of those styles. They are in good hands with this poetic, graceful guitarist. - Prefixmag.com (Mike Wood)


Portuguese guitar virtuoso Norberto Lobo crafts a gorgeous blend of international playing styles on his second solo album, Pata Lenta. Playing both six- and 12-string guitar, his combination of the avant-folk blues fingerpicking style of the Takoma Records and the forlorn romanticism of Spanish “Duende” music is nothing short of a hug for your ears, especially upon hearing such fluid compositions as “Zumbido Azedo” and “Do Alto Da Faia”. However, it’s Lobo’s radical rendition of Björk’s “Unravel”, transforming the lush, string-laden Homogenic gem into a lovely, John Fahey-esque porchside ballad that literally redefines the song’s beauty. Pata Lenta is a rich, soulful guitar album that should only serve as a sign of great things to come from this most talented scholar of his craft. - Popmatters.com (Ron Hart)


Discography

"Mudar de Bina" (Bor Land, 2007)
"Pata Lenta" (Mbari, 2009)
"Fala Mansa" (Mbari, 2011)

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Bio

In his uninterrupted voyage around guitar poetics, Portuguese player Norberto Lobo has been on expeditions with several of the great names who keep on walking the Earth. He played with Rhys Chathams Guitar Trio in Lisbon; around the citys stages he started a creative relationship with the inimitable Portuguese voice, Lula Pena; and jammed with guitar greats from across the spectrum: Stephen Basho-Junghans and Gary Lucas, Captain Beefhearts wing man. On two occasions he shared the stage with friend Devendra Banhart and last year he jammed with percussionist extraordinaire Nan Vasconcelos.

On an eternally nomadic condition Norberto has played in Spain, France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, England, USA, Canada (where he opened, at her request, for Lhasa), the Netherlands (where he played with renowned cellist Ernst Reijseger) and a 10-date sojourn in Japan.

Someone once said we play classical guitar to prove ourselves before our fathers. As a demonstration of honor, dignity and self-sufficiency towards the one who gave us both name and manhood. But Norberto once said that what he really enjoyed was melody that he, in fact, craved for it. Gazing upon the expression of those who have just seen Norberto on stage or heard one of his records its plain to see he has an ability to guide listeners to seldom visited inner landscapes.

Playing solo guitar is a public test of dexterity, creativity and heart an attempt to bring together ideas and emotions that will summon a whole universe into existence. Norberto, between those six and twelve strings that wood can hardly contain, is able to unfold himself into multiple voices that rally together as quickly as they challenge each other.

He has tapped into a series of traditions and harnessed them into his own vision. Primitive music filtered through modern day free traditions: evoking the distinctive Portuguese playing of Carlos Paredes meditating on Lisbon and the Tagus river; echoing Paulinho da Violas trademark delicate choros and sambas, and revealing a love affair with Brazilian music; remembering Fahey and Charley Patton, by calling on the blues as a primordial filter of ache; all of it coupled with an honest-to-goodness appreciation and empathy with what it means to be a professional musician.

Norberto is slowly weaving his own stories, mining for forgotten emotions and mending long lost spiritualities. His is the sound of someone blissfully living in the modern Lisbon, which is also an old Lisbon; a celebration of the city in all its contradictions. His is the ability of someone who can make everyone around him feel special in the sharing of his gift. So Sade! our glasses raise to all that join us in enjoying the timeless beauty of Pata Lenta.