Portuguese instrumental rock trio Black Bombaim have good taste in collaborators. Saxophonist Rodrigo Amado, synth player Luís Fernandes, and Earthless guitarist Isaiah Mitchell have all made appearances, and the group recorded an entire album with Peter Brötzmann in 2016. Their latest release, Dragonflies with Birds and Snake, is simultaneously the soundtrack to a film of the same name by Wolfgang Lehmann, and a collaboration with Portuguese percussionist João Pais Filipe (a member of HHY & the Macumbas, among other groups).
The album contains three tracks, “Dragonflies,” “Birds,” and “Snake.” The first of these is a 20-minute jam that takes up one entire side of the LP. “Birds” is comparatively short, not quite eight minutes long, and the 15:28 “Snake” splits the difference. The three members of Black Bombaim — guitarist Ricardo Miranda, bassist Vitor Rodrigues, and drummer Paulo Gonçalves — are capable of whipping up an unholy psychedelic garage-doom roar when the moment calls for it. On their collaboration with Peter Brötzmann, guitar and bass had equal prominence in the mix, creating a steady but fluctuating throb that recalled endless one-chord Hawkwind journeys like “Lord of Light” and “Born to Go.” Here, the extra element is not a lead instrument but a rhythmic one, so they tone things down somewhat and go bottom-heavy. Gonçalves and Filipe lock in, setting up unison grooves that occasionally split apart, one man beating out an almost militaristic marching pattern as the other tosses in accents from the floor tom or the kick drum. Some of the moodiest and most ritualistic sections, particularly “Birds,” will bring to mind the more menacing early work of Spain’s Orthodox, back when they were still wearing monk’s robes onstage. There’s also a surprising passage, roughly the last three minutes of “Dragonflies,” where Miranda switches from a grinding Black Sabbath-esque guitar tone to something looser, like a cross between Neil Young at his most despairing and Jandek‘s detuned bedroom wails. This is a fascinating release, combining some of Black Bombaim‘s quietest and most introspective music with some of its most overpowering thunder. Any fan of their catalog to date expects to be taken on an adventure each time out, but this one is like a journey into a deep, cold cave.