CÉSAR BOLAÑOS – Peruvian Electroacoustic And Experimental Work (1964 – 1970)

Pogus

This double CD gathers a number of fairly important opuses by Peruvian composer Bolaños, born in 1931 and part of a wave of local experimental musicians who in the mid-sixties tried to encompass the demands of the avant-garde in their approach to composition. The bulk of Bolaños’ activity occurred at Buenos Aires’ CLAEM (Centro Latinoamericano De Altos Estudios Musicales), where he was in charge of the development of the electronic music laboratory. The man’s intellectual curiosity and will of juxtaposing different issues in his scores – including theatre elements and experimentation with lights and automated conduction – are both admirably illustrated by the material contained herein.

As in every archival recording, a distinct smell of dust accompanies the procedures, parallelly to the aura of naïve wholesomeness characterizing several of these pieces. A well-visible ingredient in this artist’s work is the human voice: “Sialoecibi, ESEPCO I” utilizes the recitation by a mime and actor in a computer-and-piano setting, and texts from Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s diary of the guerrilla campaign in Bolivia are mixed with an amplified 21-element orchestra in “Ńacahuasu”. The very first track of this set, 1964’s “Intensitad Y Altura”, is a tape piece based on a César Vallejo poem: it’s a haunting construction of chewed mumbling, disjointed utterances and wet whispering, oddly recalling Frank Zappa’s “Are You Hung Up?” on We’re Only In It For The Money (which came three years later… honi soit qui mal y pense).

While “Divertimento I” and “Divertimento III” are instrumental pastiches sounding like pretty ordinary improvisations, and “Interpolaciones” constitutes an intriguing parallelism of cleanly dissonant (and occasionally twisted) electric guitar plucks and pre-recorded abstractions, the most enthralling aspects of Bolaños’ style lie in the somewhat sinister “Canción Sin Palabras, ESEPCO II”, for piano with two performers and tape: its reverberant shades, intimidating electronics and exploitation of the instrument’s insides are fused with a classic of today’s EAI, namely the distant moan of the outside vehicles during the live performance. Everything sounds current in this magnetizing 40-year old episode. Once again we owe a thankful bow to Pogus for having retrieved and brought to our attention noteworthy and rather unique music, previously buried in the soil of general unawareness.

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