Although we have never met in person (but it’s not too late), Ernesto Rodrigues and myself share a silent alliance since the very beginning of our reciprocal enterprises, as he’s always been at the forefront of the thousands who were fooled by copious doses of purple prose hiding a total lack of insightfulness. Creative Sources remains one of the top labels of improvisation around, despite 1) constant criticism by people who don’t actually listen to the music and 2) a sometimes overly egalitarian approach in terms of quality control. Isolated scribblers are perennially submerged by records, thus I am in long delay with the recent releases by Ernie’s imprint. Let’s try and fight back in order not to be counted out by the referee while absorbing fusillades of blows to the ears.
JACOB WICK / ANDREW GREENWALD – 37:55
A trumpet (Wick) and percussion (Greenwald) duo; don’t recall having heard other music from these two but I might be wrong. Classic CS release, a study in the pneumatic exploration of conduits as opposed to the subtle crackling of objects inserted in a percussive kit and expertly manipulated. Good recording quality, very detailed sound (especially by headphone). Wet (h/k)isses, sucking and popping against scraping, brushing and rubbing (and some eruptive drum outburst, such as a considerable fraction of the third track). Never in a frenzy yet apparently aroused sometimes, the musicians chart their path across the genre’s obvious references with a degree of class and reciprocal attentiveness, thus producing an artefact that’s much more listenable and significant than several hypothetical musts from Zen-ish labels and artists whose subordination to expectancy – even in a theoretically enlightened mindset – makes me vomit.
PEDRO REBELO / FRANZISKA SCHROEDER / GUILHERME RODRIGUES / ERNESTO RODRIGUES – May There Be…
Piano, soprano sax, cello and violin. Great album: an assortment of moods and dynamics changing from track to track, a tendency to utilize the extremities of the instruments while maintaining a distinct chamber flavor. The Rodrigueses are concerned with making the strings sound as a marble-cutting machine one moment, a chain of delicate whispers the next. Rebelo can handle different kinds of timbral duty – inside and outside the piano frame – with ease, in certain circumstances (“…Stillness”) approaching a pseudo-romanticism of sorts. Schroeder is the most unobtrusive voice, an almost spiritual rather than instrumental participation, but her absence is noticed as soon as we realize. Impressive ensemble work in the static dissonance of “…Tension”, and an overall sense of control on the directions that the music, even if instantaneously generated, should take. Harmonically fragile yet percussively emphatic in several episodes, this material sounds like having been somewhat planned in advance, possessing a kind of implicit contrapuntal substratum that renders the listening experience even more gratifying.
ARG – Animali
The correct title should be written ANIMAli, a cross of “soul” and “animals” in Italian. This document finds its origin in a namesake musical theatre opera, based on “gestures and voices from Julio Cortazar’s “Rayuela”, whose soundtrack (here contained) was composed by Graziano Lella, alias ARG. I was left neither terribly disappointed nor howling with pleasure after listening to the CD, comprising a nine-movement acousmatic piece with a variety of interesting episodes (my preference going to nocturnal landscapes and ice-cold tampering of unspecified sources), a considerable amount of speaking entities (in truth, not always a welcomed presence) and states of affairs already experienced in myriads of similar electroacoustic adventures. What’s commendable is Lella’s attempt to circumstantiate the music more conscientiously than concrete-sound latecomers usually do; there are many who believe that wandering around the neighborhood with a portable recorder is enough to be authorized to release a record of field-bullshiting, and ARG luckily seems to try and distance himself from this canon. On the other hand there’s also a definite sense of irresolution in some segments – principally deriving from the lack of a valid architectural concept underneath – causing our absorption to dwindle a little bit. Perhaps this material works better while watching the stage performance; in any case, the good marks exceed the bad ones.
LUCA MAURI – Between Love And Hate
Possibly (and partially) influenced by Aidan Baker and, just maybe, Peter Wright, Mauri utilizes looped guitars plus selected drum parts to concoct five tracks that sound normal at first, perturbed after a while, infuriated at one point, engaging throughout. Every trick of the trade is put at work: dappled resonances, stratified jangling, overdriven nervousness, slight detuning, transgendered arpeggios where discordant lines and straightforward melodies fight for a place in the sun, the result a nice mess of contrasting sensations. “Pulse/Loop” introduces a welcome rhythmic factor underlying mucky reiterations and semi-industrial echoes tarnishing an otherwise ordinary sequence, yet this limited compositional allure is exactly what constitutes its strength. “Choke” and the splendid, conclusive “All That Remains” touch on aspects of guitar-based entrancement that will satisfy the many fans of the genre, but Mauri does possess a personality of his own, a kind of humbleness which I couldn’t really explain but is clearly felt. Lacking the disproportionate ambition and inane affectation typical of the majority of his compatriots, this is in my opinion the most honest music released by an Italian on Creative Sources to date.
DUE – Few And Far Between
“Due” means “two” in Italian, but Susann Wehrli (flutes, melodica) and Karin Ernst (laptop, live electronics) hail from Switzerland. Thirteen improvisations whose structure is instantly visible: Wehrli suggests, Ernst manipulates, both thoroughly respecting each other’s designs and instant modifications. Intelligible ideas abound throughout, the real-time processing applied with a stroke of moderation and, in a way, childish candour so that the music preserves a sort of leprechaun-ish temperament in definite moments (check, for instance, the fourth episode to better understand). A captivating alternance of chiaroscuro-tinged sonic environments and uncertain metamorphoses, never transcending the limits of good taste. These girls seem to share a penchant for gracefulness: their attitude stands poles apart from the glacial standards followed by the large part of computer artists, permeated as it is with humanity, sense of humour and a much appreciated pinch of innocence. A gathering of bits and pieces that results as quite likeable, provided that we don’t expect the new Ten Commandments.