new music reviews authored by paul khimasia morgan

Friday, 23 October 2015

it's a BLAAST

from one coordinate to uncoordination
CANADA  Caduc  CA08  CD  (2015)

Here, we have another fine release from Mathieu Ruhlmann’s Caduc label, this time a duo of Lali Barrière and Alfredo Costa Monteiro.  I previously enjoyed Ruhlmann’s Concert For Charles Cros with Lance Austin Olsen and Daniel Jones on Caduc.  Monteiro I know from his project Atolón with Ruth Barberán and Ferran Fages, whose excellent 2013 album Concret I reviewed here:  He also works with Fages under the name Cremaster, with Barberán under the name i treni inerti, (literally translated; Inert Trains), and in duos with Pascal Battus and Tim Olive as well as solo.  Lali Barrière is a Barcelona-based musician who has also worked with Ruth Barberán and Ferran Fages, along with many other notable improvisers such as Tom Chant, Xavier Lopez, Tom Soloveitzik, Dafne Vicente-Sandoval and Artur Vidal and sound artist Nuno Rebelo.  She teaches mathematics as a Professor at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and also creative music.  The scene in Barcelona seems to be particularly close-knit; Ferran Fages mastered from one coordinate to uncoordination.  Monteiro produced the sleeve artwork himself.
The work itself is one piece of deep, expansive music based around unhurried movement and tonal interplay, performed on two synthesisers over a good, long duration of 73 minutes.  Actually, as an admirer of long-duration improvisation, I could happily listen to much more than that; this is great stuff – immersive, subtle and enigmatic.  In fact, when on the first listen, as the music finished, I immediately pressed play again and listened to the whole thing straight through for a second time.  Demonstrating considerable restraint and purity of intention, from one coordinate to uncoordination keeps a fairly uniform dynamic until about halfway where Barrière and Costa Monteiro break it down into gossamer components.  All the way they maintain a linearity in their interplay.  Later, at 50 minutes, both synthesisers take on the timbre of church organs as if heard from outside; filtered by the stone walls of a church.
I am aware that there has been a recent resurgence of interest in all things analogue in the world of synthesis, and it is not stated on the sleeve whether the equipment being used here is digital or analogue, (however there is a video of BLAAST in performance and it looks like they are using modern desktop synthesisers, but it’s too dark to make out much more than that).  Purists may (and probably will) argue over this until the cows come home, but I don’t really think about it either way – the music speaks for itself and, could feasibly be adapted for different instrumentation.  Furthermore, those familiar with either of the musician’s previous output may be surprised to hear synthesisers used at all.  Both Monteiro and Barrière are normally firmly ensconced in the EAI area of music making with acoustic instruments, unconventional strategies, extended technique and so forth.  Displaying steady development, from one coordinate to uncoordination avoids stagnation or unnecessary busyness.  I had an emotional response to it at once, hence my urge to listen through it again straightaway.
Again with Caduc, the production values on the disc are high – full colour professional printing on a heavy card stock fold-over sleeve, with the thoughtful addition of a bookmark included.

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