THELMO CRISTOVAM – Três Chaves Perdidas / Três Frases Enterradas


Brazilian Thelmo Cristovam is absorbed by the innumerable forms and gradations of the acoustic matter, using what’s at his disposal to achieve the creative aim. Like many purists, he focuses on a restricted number of sources to eviscerate them thoroughly. Occasionally, the results may be hardly palatable from a common aesthetic point of view, yet there is no doubt about the researcher’s commitment. This C60 tape features two pieces of identical length, born from Cristovam’s superimposition of noisy components and field recordings. One could fear obviousness, but this is not the case: if you’re fantasizing on chirping birds and bells tolling in the distance over industrial landscapes, you’re way off the mark. 

Instead, what we’re given in the first track is asphyxiating pressure, the compressed power of what is harmonically colorless, a blistering intensity that Cristovam manages to shape into compositional momentousness. Notwithstanding the vehemence the sonic event is clearly delineated, as if it were possible to draw a ripping wind on a graph in order to depict its gusts without words. We perceive human presences engulfed by the incessant flow. Surfacing more evidently at times, they still sound alien, incorporeal, almost mechanical, only to be shredded and swallowed again by the blowing force. Other ghosts, somewhere, include ineffable loops, or perhaps echoes of huge machinery, plus assorted distorted signals, absolutely incomprehensible. And possibly some shortwave radio. The mind roams, but there’s no time for analysis. We’re just carried away by the audio mass, and that’s it. 

The second segment, less consuming but equally transfixing, is also dynamically diverse. Think “variations on a slightly muffled cross between the turbines of a jet and the rumble of a rock slide”. An intangible choir of exhaling pseudo-souls describes elliptical figures and gravitational oscillations in the background. One believes to be catching glimpses of trains, in spots. Aural mirages, most likely. Sometimes trying to explain the inexplicable is truly ridiculous: if you can’t find a place of psychological stasis inside the sound, then give up the idea of understanding and go back to the cultivation of the miserable garden of glorified commonplace.

Prior to this excellent work I had polluted myself with a promo of horrible music pretentiously described as “electroacoustic”, when in fact it was closer to low-budget New Age. Três Chaves Perdidas / Três Frases Enterradas picked up the garbage that had been deposited in my ears and cleaned them completely, leaving me no chance to cogitate and judge, simply invading the brain with sonorities so charged as to be nearly dangerous. And I do appreciate the feeling of danger, especially when accompanied by a total absence of frills. Take the composer’s advice, and enjoy this stuff through headphones. If you don’t have headphones, play loud. A highly recommended release for those who treasure artists such as Francisco Meirino, Joe Colley, Jason Lescalleet, John Duncan, Daniel Menche and the likes.

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