LEO ALVES & JUAN ANTONIO NIETO – Data

Musica Insolita

Listen, study, learn (including, perhaps, the basics of a foreign language). I’ve had this happen to the ignorant me in recent days, thanks to a connection with Leo Alves, a Brazilian composer whose grandfather – Mario Alves De Souza Vieira – was kidnapped, tortured and killed in 1970 by the barbaric regime that ruled at the time. Documentation in English on this episode could not be found after a first search. I used an automatic translator in order to absorb that horrible story from the articles written in Portuguese. One comes out more conscious, and rather appalled. The album cover’s artwork by Pedro Pagnuzzi pays homage to the man by depicting his old typewriter as a symbol of freedom of expression.

The ethos of Data – co-created by Alves with Juan Antonio Nieto – is definitely influenced by a determination to preserve memories, however discomforting and sorrowful. The electro-acoustic tenets around which the compositions shift privilege the use and alteration of field recordings, less recognizable sources, and disembodied voices of people involved in equally dramatic events. The studio work progressively heightens the component of oppression and potential violence, unfortunately still experienced today in some parts of Brazil. Most of this cinema for the ear is indeed loaded with fairly intimidating hues, often to the point of becoming heavily occlusive. But even when such a gloomy aura is absent, Alves and Nieto don’t warrant any room to serenity. The multitude of information is only partially decodable amidst barren scenarios with occasional post-industrial reverberations. Again, I wish I had a better command of Portuguese, although something can be understood. Pretty sure that the phrase concluding the set translates as “history will do justice”. One could imagine the fragile voice that utters it belonging to Mario Alves’ widow, Dilma Borges Vieira. Instead, it’s her daughter Lucia – Leo’s mother.

In a way, Data‘s sonic arc seems to describe today’s global reality. An enforced deformation of the manifest truth, the attempt to disfigure the individuality of creative specimens, the spontaneous generation of a distrust both in any kind of governing system and – unpleasant truth alert – in many of those who surround us, and with whom we should live in “solidarity”. These unpropitious audio environments ask for a remarkable single-mindedness for a proper comprehension; much more than a lone session must be granted to this release. Finally, to read about the fervent activism and overall spirit of these worthy artists, veritable survivors of an endangered species, let me refer you to this interview. And if you’re not yet familiar with Deepl, this is a good opportunity to try it out.

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