Bossa nova meets doom metal in “This Middle Ground”

Courtesy of Castor and Pollux

While hybrid mash-ups of musical genres are nothing new from the rock/classical music experiments of the ‘60s and ‘70s to more recent fusions of jazz and hip-hop, Brazilian bossa nova and doom metal is certainly not a combination that most people would pair together.

However, that’s exactly what recent valley transplant Nathan Hubbard sets out to do with his new album, “This Middle Ground,” which he will be presenting in concert at the Lost Leaf on Wednesday.

“This Middle Ground” traverses a myriad of sonic landscapes and instrumentations as it describes a tale of lost love and its aftermath.

The album opens with a wash of ethereal vocals over synthesized chords that melt into a sultry bossa nova wishing farewell to a lover that will sound familiar to any aficionado of Brazilian composer Antônio Carlos Jobim.

After a few verses and some vocal improvisation, the low-key groove drifts into a breakbeat that fits naturally among the Brazilian rhythms as the acoustic instrumentation shifts to electronic, and an organ solo picks up where the vocals leave off.

This synthesis eventually dissolves into distorted chaos which suddenly evaporates, leaving another Latin groove centered around a snare drum pattern remaining — and all of this less than eight minutes into the album. The shades and colors continue to bleed into one another as they shift from horn arrangements to distorted electric guitar to vocal harmonies, and on.

As with any musical hybridization, listeners should not expect a pure representation of any genre in “This Middle Ground.” Hard-core bossa nova fans may not appreciate the album’s dissonance, just as those who closely follow doom metal may be disappointed by the album’s scarcity of “doom.”

However, those who seek interesting combinations and approach new ideas with an open mind will appreciate the clear undertones of both genres among this pastiche that at times borders on the epic and at others the psychedelic.

“This Middle Ground” is the fourth release by San Diego-based group Ogd_S(11) Translation Has Failed, following “If Memory Serves” (2007), “Bring Back the Gasmask” (2009) and “Volume III” (2011). Rather than performing with the band, which recorded the album, Hubbard will present the set in a series of collaborations featuring local Phoenix musicians.

Following the complete performance of “This Middle Ground,” local improvisatory ensemble The Scorpion Decides (featuring Nathan Hubbard again on drums) will debut a series of new compositions.

The Lost Leaf is located on 914 North 5th Street in downtown Phoenix. The performance begins at 9:30 p.m.

Reach the reporter at bscolaro@asu.edu

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