by Eyal Hareuveni on Salt Peanuts*

“The Rotterdam-based Pan-European trio ALBATRE warns that it delivers a kind of punkish-metallic-noisy free jazz that is no jazz for weddings. It is a fair warning and a best kept promise. The trio sophomore release, «Nagual», released two years after the trio debut, «A Descent into Maelstrom» (Shhpuma, 2013), demands a total surrender to an ecstatic and turbulent, at times nightmarish sonic universe, fully knowing that there is no escape from it. The trio features prolific Portuguese bass player Gonçalo Almeida, who plays also with the LAMA trio, Tetterapadequ quartet and Spinifex quintet, fellow countryman, alto sax player Hugo Costa and German drummer Philipp Ernsting.

«Nagual» begins with a massive, repetitive grind that sound as slowed-down adaptation from  the lexicon of The Thing «Boot!»-era or early Zu onslaughts, so powerful and aggressive that may tear down skyscrapers. The second piece on the first side of this vinyl only album (plus download option) proves that the trio language is more varied and richer. «00» is experimental dive into a claustrophobic swamp of surreal, abstract textures, fractured pulse and distorted-wailing shrieks that abruptly morphs into rapid, manic onslaught, highlighting the tight interplay of ALBATRE.

The second side of this album feature the three-part piece «El Bicho» (The Bug). On the first part the sax and bass are veiled with thick walls of electronics pierced only by the massive, addictive rhythm of the drums. The second part stresses again the rhythm, this time a rapid grind of the drums amid a chaotic, psychedelic storm of sax wails and repetitive, heavy bass riffs. The last suggests another variation of the rhythm, now dictating a fierce slowed-down doom-metal pulse that intensify the nightmarish-psychedelic storm.

Obviously, weddings and other family ceremonies are ruled out. More likely a soundtrack for demonstrations against the greedy, inhuman neo-capitalist regimes.”


by Guy Peters on about “A Descent into the Maelstrom”
“That makes everything from A Descent Into The Maelstrom a challenging and compelling record, which shows us that the genre we call convenience jazzcore is still alive”

Albatre: A Descent Into The Maelstrom (2013)
By EYAL HAREUVENI, in All about jazz

Albatre is a Pan-European trio based in Rotterdam, comprised of two Portuguese living in this city—alto saxophonist Hugo Costa and bassist Gonçalo Almeida, member of the Portuguese Lama Trio—joined by German drummer Philipp Ernsting. The trio’s debut offers its schizoid vision of free jazz on metal and punk steroids with electronic sonic neurosis. Albatre’s aesthetics stick to a thick, distorted stew of fast beats, sudden mood shifts, frantic drumming, and urgent, brutal sax and bass outbursts. Surprisingly enough this explosive, noisy mix is executed in total command, at times even with humor.

It is redundant to reference this trio magma of sounds to like-minded, non-conformist and powerful outfits as the Scandinavian The Thing, Ken Vandermark’s Fire Room (with Lasse Marhaug and Paal Nilssen-Love), Japanese, guitarist Keiji Haino’s Fushitsusha or even the Dutch The Ex. But Albatre has developed its unique sound, nuanced, searching interplay with a persistent attempt to push its sonic envelope with electronic effects and loops.

From the first second of the opening “Nautilus” it is clear that it is futile to resist to Albatre’s dense mix of sounds. The trio floods you with its heavy, nervous interplay, locked in an addictive rhythm that keeps pushing Costa and Almeida. The wild, frantic “Maelstrom” is a joyful storm of noises that almost obscures heavy, repetitive drumming, muscular bass riffs and tortured sax shrieks. “Aphoric zone” reveals that Albatre palette of sounds is more colorful and now the trio builds patiently a detailed and intense texture of distant, resonant bass guitar lines, passionate sax playing, fractured pulses augmented by walls of noises until all collapse beautifully into a chaotic abyss of sounds. “Vampyroteuthis Infernalis” is another, uncompromising, climatic onslaught, that revolves around infectious , heavy rhythms, disturbed only with metallic noises. Albatre surprises with the last piece “Albatrossia” that introduces a leisured beat, almost relaxed reggae pulse, but soon pours it with torrents of distorted, effects laden bass and sax noises.
Albatre debut suggests a gratifying, sonic catharsis to the modern busy and restless life.

At Free Jazz Alchemist blog:


“Descent in the Maelstrom” collides ultra-low bass, heavy and fast drums, paranoidal saxophone screams in order to create a freaky amalgam of metal, jazz, noise, punk, krautrock and else (it might sound more fun to add *core or at the end of each of these or doom* at the beginning or something similar). Albatre’s music is not for the light-hearted. Improvised in form and spirit, metal in materia it might proof to be too far off for many listeners on both sides of the barricade, but for those who are willing to stretch their ears and boundaries, it’s a hell lot of perverse fun.”


About the show at Hall of Fame, 9 november 2013, Tilburg, NL. By Maarten de Waal at 3 voor 12

“(…)More than excellent Albatre begins his set with a hermetic and compelling repetitive piece, but quickly fanned out in all directions and plays with (…) a relentless fury and sense of purpose ‘that you would wish from more bands. Clearly a band with a mission, this trio from Rotterdam, which according to their tour schedule now been asked for shows in Central and Eastern Europe. Make sure you do not miss them when they are back in the country.”


At Free Jazz Blog By Stef

“Today the new Clean Feed batch has arrived, and we’re still struggling to get some of the previous releases reviewed. This album comes from Shhhpuma, the Portuguese label’s side project, now featuring Albatre, a sax trio that brings us a refreshing and modern new sound.

The trio is Hugo Costa on alto sax, Gonçalo Almeida on electric bass and German drummer Philipp Ernsting, but their take on jazz is anything but what you can expected. It sounds like the grunge version of jazz, with heavy moments of raw violence alternated with quieter melodic moments, like a mixture of Zu with Jim Black’s Alasnoaxis.

Bass and drums come with all the anger and energy of a rock or punk band, while the alto screams and wails full of distress and agony like only a sax can in the best of free jazz modes. The music is raw, direct, without embellishments and needless decoration. This is straight-in-your-ears power jazz, but then of the clever kind and with depth.

A Descent Into The Maelstrom … indeed!”

Review on Bad Alchemy
“ALBATRE is a brain blow. With a jazz -core vortex that devours us.”
BA 76-albatre


Review on SOTU Festival by  Arjan van Sorge   at Gonzo Circus Magazine

“Albatre is een trio uit Rotterdam met Hugo Costa op sax, Gonzo Almeida op bas en Phillipp Ernsting op drums. Ouderwets lekkere, stuiptrekkende noiserock, met een en al aanzwellend en zo goed als niet afnemend geluidsgeweld van de bovenste plank. Alles prachtig en zonder maar een moment te aarzelen gespeeld; de band neemt de tijd om iets uit te bouwen en duidelijk neer te zetten. Er zijn wat invloeden uit de progrock, metal en jazz, maar wat overheerst zijn de schijnbaar ongestructureerde noise-oprispingen. Toch is niets minder waar: de band speelt superstrak en heeft totale controle. De grommende, soms sfeervol spelende sax, de raggende bas en de complexe ritmes vullen elkaar perfect aan, met behulp van de nodige elektronica natuurlijk. Echt een topper!”

(English) : “Albatre is a trio from Rotterdam, Hugo Costa on sax, Gonzo Almeida on bass and Phillipp Ernsting on drums. Old-fashioned style, convulsing, noise rock, and all with a swelling and virtually noise decreasing violence of the top shelf. All beautifully and without hesitation, but played on moment, the band takes the time to build something and put it down clearly. There are some influences from prog rock, metal and jazz, but what dominates the seemingly its the unstructured noise-belching. Yet the band plays very tight and has total control. The growling, sometimes atmospheric playing sax, the raged bass and complex rhythms complement each other perfectly, with the necessary electronics course. Truly a pearl!”



At A Trompa by Rui Dinis

“A Descent into the Maelström” é um disco cheio de complexidades, um disco cheio de múltiplas soluções criativas. Não sendo um disco de puro rock ou de jazz, é acima de tudo um disco disso tudo e muito, muito mais. Estilisticamente pouco ortodoxo, ”A Descent into the Maelström” é ainda assim um enorme e criativo exercício de estilo, cravado de elementos rock e free jazz alinhados por fortes correntes de improviso e uma indomável vontade experimental. Não se espere o óbvio, nada disso, esperem antes uma conjunto de novas e intrincadas soluções instrumentais. O ritmo é verdadeiramente pulsional, assombroso, a espaços também vagaroso mas quase sempre violento, pujante, de linhas sonoras enigmáticas. Por mim, está encontrado um dos discos do ano!”


“A Descent into the Maelstrom” is an album full of complexities, a disc full of multiple creative solutions. Not being a pure hard rock or jazz, is above all a record of all this and much, much more. Stylistically unorthodox, “The Descent into the Maelstrom” is still a huge and creative exercise in style, spiked aligned currents strong elements of improvisation rock and free jazz and experimental an indomitable will. Do not expect the obvious, nothing like that, wait rather a set of new and intricate instrumental solutions. The pace is truly instinctive, haunting the spaces too slow but almost always violent, vibrant, enigmatic sound lines. For me, is found one of the records of the year! “


At Gapplegate Music Reviews by 

“Today, another volume in the adventurous Shh Puma series of avant recordings overseen and manufactured by the makers of Clean Feed. It’s a good one. The trio at work on this program is Albatre. The disk is entitled A Descent into the Maelstrom(shh puma 005).

Albatre is a rather explosive grouping of Hugo Costa on alto sax and loops, Goncalo Almeida on electric bass and effects, and Philipp Ernsting, drums and electronics.

This is out, very edgy music with a pronounced electricity. It has the power of avant metal though it isn’t quite that. It is highly energized avant free jazz-rock on the fringes. Hugo Costa warbles, screeches and blasts his way through walls on the alto. Goncalo Almeida hits the bass full-force and gets the power of hard and furious playing with the judicious aid of effects. Sometimes he sounds very guitar-metal like, sometimes it is a bracing set of low-frequency barrages, but it’s good. And Phillip Ernsting hits the drums on all-fours, bashing, thrashing and weaving in and out of time. He also provides washes of electronics which add to the tumult.

Now I know there are some that might not appreciate this music. But hey, some of what I cover is not for the unwary, and so this fits right in with those sorts of recordings. It does it excellently, flat-out, with no attempts at commercial amelioration whatsoever. A first-rate avant blow-out! Recommended if you dig the interface between free jazz and metal thrash. Yeah!”


At Jazz and Blues Blog by Tim Niland

“Albatre is an improvising trio from The Netherlands consisting of Hugo Costa on alto saxophone and electronics, Gonzo Almeida on bass and electronic effects and Philipp Ernsting on drums and electronics. Their music is frenetic and exciting free jazz with splashes of electronics that gives the music a wide palette of sound. Electric bass guitar and pulsating drums combine with snarls of electronics making a dark and ominous sound that is really in your face with blasts or drums between wails of saxophone. The start-stop dynamic they use is particularly effective as a tension building device on “Malestrom.” A spare and haunting theme opens “Aphotic Zone” with the reverberations of the electronics making for a lonely feel to the music. The full band comes through and really ramps things up into overdrive, moving into the following track, “Deep Trench” which is shorn of any ornamental nature and evolves into a pure trio stomp. “Vampyroteuthis Infernalis” has a strong bass and drum foundation that drives the music ever forward and makes for a great launching pad for an absolutely scalding sound. The closing “Albatrossia” breaks with the formula a bit, with Almeida and Ernsting developing a fractured funk groove before Costa enters and leads the group into an overpowering collective improvisation. I found this album to be quite enjoyable and exciting. The group holds nothing back, and fans of The Thing and similar groups should find a lot to enjoy here.”


At Bodyspace by Paulo Cecílio

“O facto é que projectos como os Albatre – que não são os primeiros nem serão os últimos a pegar na feeria rock e a misturá-la com improvisações ou incursões pelo jazz – obrigam-nos a pensar nisto: que recursos estilísticos poderemos nós, os que escrevem, empregar? Importa falar de A Descent Into The Maelström com a loquacidade e literacia que nos merece, estudando estas peças academicamente, ou, do alto da nossa juventude eterna e rebelde, exorcizar Lester Bangs e descrever/elogiar o disco de Hugo Costa (saxofone alto), Gonçalo Almeida (baixo eléctrico) e Philipp Ernsting (bateria) por aquilo que nos faz sentir, inserindo a caralhada certeira no final de um qualquer parágrafo?

Dado que uma crítica é pessoal e intransmissível a não ser que estejamos a falar da Pitchfork e do seu rebanho hipster, opte-se pela segunda – pedindo desde já desculpa a quem se sentir ofendido ou enganado – porque 1) o autor destas linhas não é académico nem pretende sê-lo e 2) o autor destas linhas é um jovem eterno e rebelde do rock n’ roll. A Descent Into The Maelström é um híbrido excelente, uma daquelas provas de que o casamento interracial é algo de belo. Há um qualquer tema náutico na sua génese mas não interessa, porque temos que indubitavelmente falar da forma de tocar incendiária de H. Costa, e esta analogia seria um paradoxo absurdo ou um enorme erro de cálculo, já que o fogo não se dá bem com a água.

O destaque, contudo, vai todo para o baixo (já que a crítica é pessoal assuma-se desde já um fetiche por este instrumento) e para o riff pesado que o próprio começa a esgalhar ali por volta dos três minutos de “Maelström”, cru e eléctrico, acompanhado por percussão enérgica – julgamos estar num moshpit até que o chiar do saxofone em “Aphotic Zone” nos traz de volta à realidade. Este é um disco de jazz, ou lançado por uma editora de jazz, por isso não podemos dizer que isto nos arrepia a espinha. Ou se calhar até podemos. Daqui até final A Descent… continua a corroer-nos as veias com mais da mesma brutalidade, passando pela carícia stoner de “Vampyroteuthis Infernalis” e finando em “Albatrossia”, esgotados todos os adjectivos doutos. Venham então os populares: isto é do caralho.”


“The fact is that projects like Albatre – they are not the first nor will be the last to catch on rock and mix it with jazz improvisations or raids – compel us to think of which stylistic features,we who write, can employ ? Matters to talk about The Descent Into The Maelstrom literacy with gab and it deserves studying these pieces academically , or from the top of our eternal youth and rebellious , exorcise Lester Bangs and describe / praise the record with Hugo Costa ( alto saxophone ) , Goncalo Almeida ( bass ) and Philipp Ernsting (drums ) for what makes us feel , entering the word fuck at the end of any paragraph?

Given that a review is not transferable unless we’re talking about from Pitchfork and his flock hipster , opt for the second – asking right now apologize to those who feel offended or cheated – because 1 ) the author of these lines is not academic or pretend to be him and 2 ) the author of these lines is an eternal youth and rebellious rock ‘n’ roll . A Descent Into The Maelstrom is an excellent hybrid, one of those proofs that interracial marriage is something beautiful . Is there any nautical theme in its genesis but does not matter, because we have to undoubtedly talk about the way of playing incendiary H. Coast, and this analogy would be absurd paradox or a huge miscalculation , since fire does not do well with water .

The highlight , however, goes all for the low (since the criticism is personal is assumed at the outset a fetish for this instrument ) and the heavy riff that gets himself lop there for about three minutes of ” Maelstrom ” raw and electric , accompanied by energetic percussion – we think we are in a moshpit until the squealing saxophone on ” Aphotic Zone ” brings us back to reality . This is a jazz album , released by a publishing house or jazz , so we can not say that it shivers in the spine . Or maybe we even can . From here to the end … The Descent continues to erode in the veins with more of the same brutality , past the stoner caress ” Vampyroteuthis Infernalis ” and finando in ” Albatrossia ” exhausted all learned adjectives . Come then popular : this is fucking great”


At Gonzo Circus magazine #115 by Seb Bassleer

Albatre Gonzo review