Over the past couple of years, Luís Mota has done orchestrations for films, video games, TV series and has also rescored silent films from the beginning of the 20th century — the first being The Unholy Three from 1925. Invisible Cities though, is the musician's first release as a solo artist; with a scenario set by Mota and the artistic direction of the album being his own.
Invisible Cities is named after and inspired by Italo Calvino’s book of the same name, and follows its approach of depicting cities named after women — for the album, ten of them. The music came to Mota while reading the book and it carries through the descriptive and narrative elements of the original writing.
“Octavia” is dreamy and stargazing while waltzing and “Zemrude” is almost a musical tightrope, in which Mota balances several musical worlds. Indeed, Invisible Cities sits between different musical universes — “Leonia” — whether American or European minimalism, and with a healthy dose of post-impressionism.
While some pieces are almost reduced to their bare essential, as in “Despina”, some of them offer a considerable amount of substance to the listener — “Maurilia” — without ever falling in any musical traps and clichés.
Following the original literary influence, the album is punctuated by three dialogues, each of them related to the other and creating another sense of continuity to the album.
Invisible Cities is a very successful release which showcases a strong creative personality, and an album one will want to listen to over, and over again.
The Portuguese composer is a violinist and uses the piano as his main composing tool — his approach to the piano is refreshing, but also impressively accurate and precise. He has therefore made the interesting choice of letting another performer record his music; namely John-Paul Muir. This allows for a broadening of the creative experience, with two individual brains at work during the several phases of birth of the music.
Invisible Cities is made of very detailed and delicate music; small miniatures, almost musical porcelains, fragile yet beautiful to admire. Each of these meditations is at the border of the intellectual and the emotional, reflecting the narrative intentions of the composer.