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Sara Serpa & André Matos Will Tour to Celebrate New Album 'Night Birds'

Jan 30, 2024

Their new album will be released on September 29.


Seven years after their last duo album, vocalist Sara Serpa and guitarist André Matos return with Night Birds.

Out September 29, 2023 in CD and digital download on the Portuguese label Robalo Music, the duo’s third release captures and crystallizes their uncanny musical connection. The duo celebrates the recording with an album release tour featuring stops in eight US cities.

Thursday, September 28, 7 p.m. at Joe’s Pub, Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Place, New York City. Serpa and Matos with Dov Manski on piano and synth, Thomas Morgan (bass), Lesley Mok (drums). Tickets $20.

Saturday, September 30, 7 p.m., Regattabar, 1 Bennett St, The Charles Hotel, Cambridge, MA. Serpa and Matos with Dov Manski on piano and synth. Tickets $20-$25.

Wednesday, October 4, 8 p.m. at New England Conservatory, Brown Hall, 290 Huntington Avenue, Boston. Residency Concert with NEC students, guitarist Matos, and pianist Dov Manski featuring a range of repertoire including music from Night Birds as well as excerpts from Serpa’s acclaimed multi-media work Intimate Strangers. Free.

Tuesday, October 10, 8 p.m. at Fire Museum, Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Atonement, 1542 E. Montgomery Avenue, Philadelphia. Serpa and Matos with Dov Manski on piano and synth. Also on the bill: Song People. Tickets $10-$20.

Wednesday, October 11, 7 p.m. at Georgetown Day School, 4200 Davenport St. NW, Washington, DC. Serpa and Matos with Dov Manski on piano and synth. $15.

Thursday, October 12 at An Die Musik, 409 N. Charles St., Baltimore. Serpa and Matos with Dov Manski on piano and synth.

Friday, October 13, 8:30 and 10 p.m. at Firehouse 12, 45 Crown St., New Haven, CT. Serpa and Matos with Dov Manski on piano and synth. Tickets $15-$20..

Saturday, October 14, 6 p.m. at Rough Draft Bar and Books, 82 John St., Kingston, NY. Serpa and Matos with Dov Manski on piano and synth.

Serpa is widely acclaimed as one of the premier vocalists of her generation and was crowned the 2020 Vocalist of the Year by NPR. Matos has been praised as “one of the kings of melody..." by the New York Music Daily. Together, their music has been described as “decidedly otherworldly and totally original” (The Classical Arts) and “a perfect musical union” (O Público).

A collection of original compositions, improvisations and a Bartok bagatelle, the dozen tracks on Night Birds reflect on the fast-paced societies of the modern world, questioning the consumption and exploitation of natural ecosystems.

Serpa’s distinctive singing and Matos’ spectacular sonic landscapes are enhanced by original and creative artists in jazz and improvised music including Brooklyn-based pianist Dov Manski, South-Korean avant-garde cellist Okkyung Lee (John Zorn, Nels Cline, Chris Corsano, and Thurston Moore), Ethiopian-Swedish experimental vocalist Sofia Jernberg (Fire! Orchestra, Mette Rasmussen), Portuguese up-and-coming drummer João Pereira, and on two tracks, Serpa and Matos’ child Lourenço.

At turns magic, dazzling and calm, the duo’s unique sonic world draws on pure, contemplative sounds and takes a personal approach to melody and poetry. Their musical identity is informed by their Portuguese culture and the creative artistic environment of New York.

The duo’s previous albums, Primavera (2014) and All The Dreams (2016), produced close to the birth of their child, radiated with the excitement of experimentation and the joy of creative communion. Night Birds brings that child in as a collaborator and a participant in the music.

“I really wanted to include his voice in this album,“ Serpa says, “before it changes in a few years. It has always been so inspiring to watch Lourenço being natural, spontaneous and present in our musical lives.” Family, Serpa’s composition, reveals multiple layers of voices, including Lourenço’s, intertwined with the guitar, bass and drums, in simple yet complex rhythmic parts.

Across the album’s twelve tracks, Serpa and Matos employ unusual, diverse approaches to the voice guitar relationship. The voice often takes on a background role, creating textures, grooves or ambiances while the guitar defines the melody or freely improvises. Adding more voices, piano, synth and cello expands the duo’s sonic palette, resulting in immersive and captivating musical moments that transcend language and barriers.

More than just a musical achievement, Night Birds addresses relevant, timely thematic concerns. “Much of this music reveals reflections on what family means for us, as immigrants and as New Yorkers, how parenting has changed our lives and how horrified we are about the overconsumption of resources and the destruction of the natural world,” Serpa explains. “How do we nurture this precious and fragile microcosmos of watching a child grow while we witness our planet’s destruction? What will be left for him?”

Exploring the interaction of electronic settings created by the guitar and synth with acoustic instruments such as the voice, cello and drums, the music of Night Birds creates a synthesis of traditional song forms and improvisation.

Matos, whose compositions shine with lyricism, mood and atmosphere, plays electric and acoustic guitar on tracks like “Counting” or “Bergman’s Island.” “Both are textures that I live with in my musical mind,” Matos explains. “While the electric is still my main vehicle, the steel string acoustic guitar has been more present in recent years, exploring new possibilities.”

Genre-crossing contemporary singer and improviser Sofia Jernberg is featured on three tracks. Her singing vocabulary includes non-verbal vocalization, split tone singing, pitchless singing and distortion. Whether mirroring Serpa’s ethereal voice with a sustained accompaniment or contributing an inspiring intro for the track “Underwater,” Jernberg’s gifts add to the album’s layers of compelling complexity.

“I have been listening to Sofia’s voice for a long time,” Serpa says. “I love her tone and her ability to create all these mysterious sounds with her voice. She’s truly inspiring.”

Pioneer cellist and adventurous noise maker Okkyung Lee, who moves freely between artistic disciples and contingencies, demonstrates her highly distinctive sonic approach in a subtle and yet effective cascading solo in “Degrowth” and “Lost Whale.”

Throughout the album, Serpa and Matos employ the diverse talents of pianist Dov Manski, whose fluidity, vital counterpoint and lyricism bolster songs like “From A Distance” and “Watching you Grow.” “Dov is a longtime friend and collaborator, " Matos says. “He brings an effective and polished sound while keeping an organic and dramatic feel with the piano and the synth.”

João Pereira (Mário Laginha, Jorge Rossy), a young Portuguese drummer and regular collaborator with the duo in Portugal, provides a spirited and grooving feel in tracks including “Carlos,” “Family” and “Counting.”

Night Birds is a testament to the ways in which Serpa and Matos have refined and developed their sound while exploring new dimensions of spontaneity. Their meaningful use of restraint and space in composition is clear on the intimate, direct “Degrowth,” a hypnotic musical call to reduce over-consumption and connect with our planet. “What if we changed our mindset?” asks Serpa.

“Is material accumulation really what we need? Our way of life is destroying the planet, and we can’t seem to agree on what actions to take. I think that walking more and going outside is a great first step.” Night Birds closes with a concise and stunning interpretation of Bela Bartok's Bagatelle, Op.6: Lento. The otherworldly melody and harmonies have a haunting quality that lingers in the mind and ear well after the album ends.

Photo by Ebru Yildiz

The track is the latest offering from The Paper Kites’ upcoming album ‘At The Roadhouse,' which they recorded live in the Australian wilderness while hand-converting an old gold-mining supply shop into the music venue of their dreams. Watch the band perform 'June's Stolen Car' live, during an unannounced and unadvertised residency at The Roadhouse.

After their last single ‘Black Lotus’, the Sons began working on their follow up. Sample inspired, this latest single is a personal track about a new relationship crossing over into something more serious. The band mixed and mastered the song themselves, with assistance from Maze Studios in Atlanta.

As a composer he has written and recorded work for ensembles including The Knights, A Far Cry string orchestra, and Brooklyn Rider string quartet. As a string arranger he has worked with Rachel Grimes, Helios, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, John Congleton, This Will Destroy You, Meshell Ndegeocello, and other artists at the boundaries of popular music.

The track is accompanied by a video created by visual artist Silas Orion. With wistful yet downtrodden animations, Orion extends the song’s themes of isolation. As he puts it, “The vision I got initially from the song was someone longing to go back to their childhood. They miss the people, the feelings, and being a kid.