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In recent years ambient music has changed and encountering Jon Hassell's fourth world design has become easy. Most of the time there’s no feeling, no narrative, a nothingness of ideas through layers and layers of pastiche and boring bedroom music. This is not bashing. Just a reminder that sometimes the information trap delays an understanding of how good music really is.
“Cavalcante” is the new release by funcionário (born Pedro Tavares). You’ll find Jon Hassell in these eleven pieces. And yes, sometimes you’ll think about ambient music. Most of the time you’ll wonder about what is really happening. And why it's only now you’re hearing about this twenty-something musician from Setúbal, Portugal.
A little bit more than one minute into “En Garde!”, the opening track, one feels challenged by the idea that everything that was listened up to that moment was a false start. The piece abruptly stops, flips some digital sound, and restarts in a whole new direction. As this happens it becomes obvious we are in for a treat. Those two, three seconds create a sensation that everything happens in a moment that introduces you to funcionário's craft: delicate complex sounds infatuated with the idea of movement and the never-ending notion that there’s no dividers in the fourth world. Music can go beyond that.
As it moves forward – “Verde”, “Sierra” or “Publicidade Arco e Flecha” -, the album (his fourth) morphs around variations or perceptions of ambient / electronic / experimental music. And as the language evolves, it hints on how funcionário keeps stretching the boundaries of digital music as he wishes to advance to a more analog setup. In a way, he confronts foundational ideas while having breakthroughs and realizing he is at a top level. Justifiably ambitious, bright and discreetly edgy.