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Sara Serpa & André Matos: All the Dreams

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As the French say, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” though in the case of Lisbon-born, New York-based vocalist Sara Serpa, the sentiment need be inverted: The more things stay the same, the more they change. The prolific Serpa (six albums in nine years) has established herself as a master of wordless soundscapes, usually shaped with either of two intuitively sympathetic compatriots: pianist Ran Blake or her husband, Brazilian guitarist André Matos. Yet for all her consistency in style, approach and partners, Serpa is also a marvel of continuous reinvention.

Consider, for example, the contrast between 2014’s Primavera, her previous outing with Matos, their first duo session, and All the Dreams. Where the former was boldly outré, often forceful and occasionally menacing, the follow-up is near-uniformly peaceful. If these 14 tracks comprise all their dreams, the pair is blessedly nightmare-free. Ten are Matos’ compositions; four are Serpa’s. Among the selections featuring actual words, four draw upon works by esteemed writers, all deceased: poets William Blake, Luis Amaro and Àlvaro de Campos and Ukrainian-born, Brazil-nurtured novelist Clarice Lispector.

From the opening “Calma,” gently propelled by special guest Pete Rende on synthesizer, to the ethereal, penultimate “Postlude,” the prevailing atmosphere remains gentle and soothing, with just the subtlest, infrequent hints of discord, darkness or urgency. Only on the brief, closing “amlaC” (“Calma” backwards) is there a stronger sense of dissonance-a reversal, literally and tonally, of all the preceding repose.

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