Alfredo Costa Monteiro: electric organ

This disc contains a 40-minute stereo version of a somewhat inclement multi-channel composition designed to work at full effect in its proper context: that is, a spatialization generated by a large number of speakers and subwoofers employing the Wave Field Synthesis technique during the playback.

Perhaps Costa Monteiro’s least “human” release to date, Insula is defined by constricting clusters in the overacute range, massive unresolved drones at times conveying an almost dictatorial disposition, and only distant remnants of the primary source. No escape whatsoever towards even the slightest hint of decompression as the music retains its uncomfortably glacial behavior.

The overall unfriendliness should not detract from the work’s value, securely set on the same high standards to which the composer has grown us used to. In recent years, Costa Monteiro seems to have studied John Duncan and Iannis Xenakis quite a lot: the vibrating physicalness suggests imageries between celestial and nuclear, striking apexes and quieter sections finely mingled. In spite of a lack of commonly intended harmoniousness – I’m referring to untrained ears, needless to say – one enjoys the plasticity of the resonating structures and the incisiveness of the processed organ’s upper partials. A state of imperturbable vigilance – enhanced by frequencies whose richness is proportional to their severity – is ultimately reached.

Beyond the hypocrisy of elite radicalism tinged with unthreatening sounds, solely focusing on the implicit meanings – and, why not, the quiet menaces – of emissions that do not necessarily look for an approval, Insula represents a brave attempt to express something less predictable than usual in the overcrowded area of today’s psychoacoustic investigation.

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