[Reviewed by stark]
This project was very close to my heart back in the day. I remember those lonely nights and mornings that I spent only with his debut and the summer moon. Then there was this equally good EP “The Shepherd’s Tea At 7” and The Empty Circle Trilogy which for me turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. It was a good mixture of ambient and folk, but I felt like something was lost along the way. Perhaps this fog that life is haunted by. The project went off my radar for a few years. But then I accidentally stumbled upon the “Two Leaves Left” EP and was totally intrigued by those two fascinating titles: “The Girl With The Razor Waiting By The Sea” and “The Boy With The Gun Waiting By The Sea”. It was so different and yet so rooted in the atmosphere that Luis Couto has professed since the very beginning. And I think, even though the singing was present on the previous albums here and there, it was in “Two Leaves Left” that he proved for the first time what an amazing vocalist he is.
“A Roda Do Tempo” comes a year after the aforementioned EP. And at first I felt inconsolable that he didn’t decide to dig deeper in this melancholic and misty folk psychedelia which sounded as if recorded during a September dawn on an empty seashore. No, the new album, released for Cynfeirdd, is like a return to The Empty Circle trilogy era. Which means an emphasis on folk atmospheres rooted in Portuguese musical traditions. The songs are more dynamic, even catchy (like “Ribeiras sem Nome”). Also the vocals are used more extensively than ever before, which is a good thing. If I had to point out the strongest element on the album it would be Luis Couto’s singing, even though all lyrics are in Portuguese, so except for what I can assume by the translated titles, I don’t understand a word about what his stories refer to.
This time the compositions can be described as “songs” with a clear conscience; richly arranged, far from simple neofolk for just vocals and an acoustic guitar. Apart from the traditional means of expression, a lot of different instruments like dulcimer, digeridoo or zither are used. There’s a lot of electric guitar, and in this composition The Joy Of Nature shows some claws. In this matter “Ao Sol” stands out where the rock feeling nicely complements folk elusiveness.
Still, I’m not convinced by this album. I mean I finally learned to feel a pleasure while listening to it, but it doesn’t affect and touch me as deeply as the other releases mentioned above. It can’t be considered under “better” or “worse” criterias, because it all depends on the individual sensitiveness of the listener. I’m sure that “A Roda Do Tempo” will find a lot of supporters, because technically and in terms of composition I can’t say a single bad word about it.