Creative Sources

With a curriculum including names like Anthony Braxton, Fred Frith, Keith Rowe and Evan Parker, TonArt Ensemble has been at the vanguard of orchestral improvisation for over twenty years. This set with Ernesto Rodrigues was put on tape in 2008, when the Portuguese violist participated in a workshop fellowship granted by the City of Hamburg. Subdivided in two segments of 38’14” and 17’30”, the latter distinguished by an accentuated use of electronics in the initial stages, this music requires a global visualization of the instrumental wholeness rather than fixing ourselves to follow the different paths of the single voices. Not that this is unfeasible: for their unique nature, brass and reeds tend to result as more prominent in the mix, and the garrulous eccentricity defining a number of transposable spurts – enhanced by the contribution of instruments such as prepared mandolin and “tube” – is strictly connected with the sort of hiccupping wisdom that bonds apparently disjointed pitches in an advanced kind of acoustically unhinged choir. Speaking of which, it is also interesting to observe the rare instances in which the extreme fragmentariness of the contrapuntal foundation fuses its divergences into brief Oms amidst relatively stationary waters of droning strings. Instantly, the well-regulated mutual give and take between the musicians reprises, restarting a collective gasping that – although spoiled by percussive spikes and impermeable crumbles of cultivated noise – remains the crucial attribute of this fascinating work.

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