Xavi Reija 2020
Catalan beat-shaping composer comes up with most sublime album of his career,
Equally adept in coming up with imaginative rhythms and captivating tunes, Xavi Reija enjoys trying out different formats, ensemble-wise, for his works, and even though he usually opts for trios, instrumental line-up in those vary from record to record. The Tarragonès-situated drummer employed a piano previously – 2017’s "Reflections" used the ivories, a percussive instrument in itself, rather prominently – yet “Dreamscape Room” takes a similar approach someplace else. José Carraa caressing the white and black keys in a non-monochrome manner and driving the notes to delicious delirium and José Posada’s bass connecting them to Xavi’s imaginative groove in a melodic way as well, helped him realize an album which is simultaneously fragile and robust.
Here’s a record where nostalgia lingers long enough to turn into reverie, only the bitter sweetness that permeates these eight numbers – spreading beyond the cymbals-kissed opener “Remembrance” and the gravely ethereal “Mom” which are dedicated to Reija’s parents – is too wonderfully layered to be called elegiac. Gentle touches of improvisation, with the small ensemble going off on a tangent make it all larger than a simple soul trip: it’s an emotional, jazzy journey through various moods justifying and magnifying almost intangible shifts of rhythm within a single cut on many a level. As a result, while the record’s start seems slow, if dynamic, the pace and amplitude grow exponentially on “Two Steps Ahead” whose interwoven funk and waltz create a unique, sensual mélange, bulging at the bottom end and hitting playful heights, before tom-toms lock in with strings and hammers on the upbeat, yet pensive, “To My Friend” and contrast the further flow.
Still, Reija’s rimshots spice up the tender “A Lifetime With You” dictating Carraa’s fingers the boogie-like course to and out of the gloom and pointing Posada’s fret runs towards dark rapture which “Time Warps” rolls out in chamber fashion, pushes elegant urgency to the fore, and then offers the listener a fusion dance. But then, the Latino moves of “Mirror” become reflective, and refreshing, again as the artists give each other ample space and air so that the piece could breeze. With a titular finale’s dewdrop drift oozing light and hope for the future, there’s no better plan for escapism than this.
As an album, “Dreamscape Room” is a very mature work – not for nothing Reija used his full name on the cover for the first time – yet it strongly suggests there’s much more music in Xavi’s pockets of fantasy on the route to the composer’s apex.