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Here is a very nice work of improvisation. «Assemblage» is an ad-hoc ensemble with Ernesto Rodrigues (on violin and viola), Guilherme Rodrigues (on cello and pocket trumpet), Manuel Mota (on electric guitar) and José Oliveira (on percussion, acoustic guitar and inside piano). They play three compositions (so it says on the cover, but we can safely assume this was all recorded during improvisation) and do this by using objects that are not commonly used to play instruments like this. Thus the result is an assemblage of sound (hence the title). Overall they love small sounds happening all over the place - a small scratch here, a pluck there, some bang inside the piano, slowly building tension in a piece, but there is never a lift-off. Nowhere the procedures explode and erupt in a wall of noise. These four people are rather held-back in their playing, maybe pre-arranged (who knows?) before they started recording, but they cleverly know to keep the tension on the right spot. Well done. Frans de Waard (Vital Weekly)

Working halfway through the complete void and the small sounds coming out of everyday life, putting their instruments in that area where almost nothing is comparable to anything else, the two Rodrigueses, Mota and Oliveira create music that's just beautiful in this bare-naked snapshot. The balance between the ingredients is this record's forte: the musicians seem to foresee any upcoming reciprocal movement, their ears receptive to the slightest vibration of the surrounding air. The percussive sounds coming out of the strings (the quartet plays cello, violins, guitars and piano interiors) together with frail skeletons made of broken silences and fractured lines represent that underground world that listeners should always investigate before abandoning to an easement not always deserved. "Assemblage" is surely one of the best Creative Sources releases and one of the best improvisation records of 2003; I just hope it causes the stir these artists merit. Massimo Ricci (Touching Extremes)

Ernesto Rodrigues’s Creative Sources issued 2 new cds too, the first named «Assemblage» is the work of the quartet of Ernesto Rodrigues on violin and viola, Guilherme Rodrigues on cello & pocket trumpet, Manuel Mota on electric guitar and José Oliveira on percussion, acoustic guitar and inside piano, the four of them create an atmosphere that is a really high class improvisation, certainly will appeal people who are into hhmm let me say more “classic” sounding improv stuff, especially those for the more “plink plonk” like (and will also work fantastic for you the label’s other releases).  Nicolas (Absurd)

Depuração, sentido da oportunidade, economia de sons, ascetismo, espírito de organização. Mas também uma certa intranquilidade, a tentação de explodir a qualquer momento, nervosismo controlado. É este o paradoxo de que vive a música de Ernesto Rodrigues e dos seus companheiros - neste disco repetem o seu filho Guilherme no violoncelo e no trompete de bolso e José Oliveira na percussão, na guitarra acústica preparada e manipulando o interior de um piano, mas estreia-se o guitarrista eléctrico Manuel Mota -, pelo que dificilmente a poderíamos situar no território do “near-silence” ou em qualquer dos seus subdomínios, os representados pelas “escolas” de Londres, Berlim, Viena ou Tóquio, não obstante certos sinais da primeira, de que o violinista e violista português confessa ser um admirador. Será, aliás, fácil de imaginar que um Mark Wastell, uma Annette Krebs, um Radu Malfatti ou um Toshimaru Nakamura critiquem o “excesso de expressão” desta prática, ainda assim reduzida a um volume mínimo e sempre decorrendo a um nível de (falsa, portanto) suavidade. Tanto melhor, pois Rodrigues dá-se mal com ortodoxias e tendências organizadas. O que lhe interessa é outra coisa e neste disco parece finalmente tê-lo conseguido: a obtenção da máxima clareza num mundo auditivo que recusa e acusa a presente histeria sonora urbana. Rui Eduardo Paes (JL)

Ritorna la Creative Sources di Ernesto Rodrigues con due nuove pubblicazioni (per quella de I Treni Inerti recensione a breve), di cui la prima vede impegnato proprio il padrone di casa in una formazione che si è arricchita della preziosa collaborazione di Manuel Mota (electric guitar) e insieme ai compagni di sempre di Ernesto (violin, viola), Guilherme Rodrigues (cello, pocket trumpet) e José Oliveria (percussion, acoustic guitar, insieme piano). La prima cosa da rilevare è lo status qualitativo che la Creative Sources sta raggiungendo di pubblicazioni in pubblicazioni e che sembra ogni volta aggiungere qualcosa di nuovo alle precedenti collaborazioni. Questo nuovo parto del quartetto vede l’opera divisa in tre parti che sono l’esatta tesi, antitesi e sintesi di questo progetto. Se, infatti, nella prima traccia i quattro giocano a nascondersi tra loro e a ricercare il silenzio sopra tutto, nella seguente prevale l’ incontro/scontro dei vari strumenti in cui risulta fondamentale il lavoro di raccordo operato da Oliveira e da un Mota in grandissima forma. La terza traccia è, dicevamo, la perfetta sintesi tra rumore e silenzio a dimostrarci come esse siano fondamentali l’un con l’altro. Dunque è il terreno dell’improvvisata e della contemporanea ad essere ancora una volta scosso. Il modo di dosare gli strumenti e l’onda d’urto sonora di certi passaggi ci regalano un lavoro dinamico e un suono, in più di un’occasione, memorabile. Consigliato.  Alfredo Rastelli (Kathodik)

It seems Portugal has really exploded into life since it hosted Expo in 1998 (someone should write an extended English language feature on the subject, until which time you'll have to swot up your French and get hold of Rui Eduardo Paes' occasional articles in Revue & Corrigée), and in the domain of jazz and improvised music it's decidedly one of the most happening places in Europe right now. At least that's the impression I get on discovering the wealth of great new music on fledgling jazz / electronica / improv labels such as Clean Feed, Sirr, Headlights and Creative Sources. This latter, run by violinist Ernesto Rodrigues, is solid proof that when it comes to superquiet, lowercase, reductionist - delete as appropriate - strategies in improvisation, there's as much going on in the Iberian Peninsula as there is in Somerville MA, Tokyo's Off Site and phosphorescent East Berlin. «Assemblage» features Rodrigues and son Guilherme (cello, pocket trumpet), José Oliveira (percussion, inside piano and acoustic guitar) and Manuel Mota on electric guitar, hailed by none other than Derek Bailey as one of today's most original performers on the instrument. Its three tracks, entitled respectively "Assemlage" I, II and III (no "b", but it's just a typo, I'm assured) unfold at a leisurely pace, with nobody pushing anyone else around, and judiciously avoid the "thou shalt not play loud or fast" dogma that has made several other notable lowercase improv outings in recent months somewhat tedious and predictable. With its meticulous attention to detail, Oliveira's percussion work recalls John Stevens' finest moments, and Mota's gentle flecks of sound counterpoint the woody scrapes of Rodrigues père et fils to perfection, to produce one the richest and most rewarding examples of the genre since London-based Assumed Possibilities Rossbin outing last year «Still Point».  Dan Warburton (Paris Transatlantic)

This album features the same trio as on «Multiples» augmented by guitarist Manuel Mota. One could describe him as the Portuguese Taku Sugimoto. His playing is extremely quiet, sparse and reserved. But unlike Sugimoto who seems to exert an irresistible influence on his comrades in arms, Mota’s presence doesn’t draw the other three improvisers into a black hole of silence. Of course, violinist Ernesto Rodrigues, cellist Guilherme Rodrigues (also heard briefly on pocket trumpet) and percussionist José Oliveira (also on acoustic guitar and inside piano) already have a penchant for self-restraint in free improvisation, but if they listen more than they play, when they emit a note it is not always a quiet one. And in fact, some passages in «Assemblage» are quite busy. So Mota often takes the fourth chair, weaving in his own subtle counterpoint to Oliveira’s sudden “pops” and “tocks” and the Rodrigues’ fragile string exchanges. “Assemblage II” builds to a relative frenzy, dominated by Oliveira’s “inside piano” playing (and the sound capture is marvelously detailed), while the other two pieces explore quieter realms. [...] François Couture (AMG)

Since Expo 98, the Portuguese have been soaking up improvised and electronic music in all its forms, and reconfiguring it in a highly original manner on labels like Sirr, Headlights and Creative Sources. This later was founded in 1999 by violinist Ernesto Rodrigues, who convened the quartet Assemblage for a concert at Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon Jazz Festival. On their debut album, Rodrigues is joined by Manuel Mota on electric guitar, José Oliveira on percussion, inside piano and acoustic guitar, and Rodrigues’s 15 year old son Guilherme on pocket trumpet and cello. All are well aware of developments in recent improvised music, particularly lowercase, but they’re wise enough to let the music dictate its own flow and structure without resorting to the dogmatic exclusion of occasional bursts of violence. Mota reveals more of the exquisite sense of timing that characterised his recent solo Rossbin outing «Leopardo» (see The Wire 230), and Oliveira, a polyvalent artist who also maintains close connections with local Fluxus activists, adds unconventional instruments to his kit, including chains, dishes of water and Tibetan prayer bowls, and uses them to great effect. The sheer variety of timbres the group conjure up in under 38 minutes (would that more Improv albums followed suit) is breathtaking, but their sensitivity to pitch belies a love for and understanding of contemporary music. Their sense of space recalls Christian Wolff, while Rodrigues père et fils are clearly familiar with string techniques originating in New Music across the board, from Iannis Xenakis to Peter Kowald. Dan Warburton (The Wire)

Quanto già precedentemente affermato sulla portoghese Creative Sources di Ernesto Rodrigues, lo confermiamo all'ascolto di questo nuovo assemblaggio di materiali rigorosamente improvvisati. Rumorismo soffuso e rarefazione sonora rendono l'ascolto di dischi come questo quasi un'impresa al di fuori delle nostre fedeli cuffie. Suoni che danzano nella materia a partire dalla generazione più parassitaria degli strumenti tirati in ballo (sezione di archi con violino e violoncello, percussioni e chitarra elettrica). Un tipo di approccio che però indugia un po' troppo nel gioco di rimandi rumoristici in una dimensione eccessivamente cristallizzata, anche se il paesaggio sonoro rimane in quest'opera di costruzione/decostruzione assolutamente suggestivo, in quanto diafano e sfuggente. Le produzioni Creative si distinguono comunque per la grande pulizia e la notevole valorizzazione timbrica di strumenti non facili come gli archi in genere. Vista l'improvvisazione (intesa come mancanza di professionalità) che spesso abbraccia gli ambiti di produzione e confezionamento di materiali di questo genere, ci sembra che una simile qualità possa fare davvero la differenza.  Michele Coralli (Altremusiche)

Auditory essays on the arrangement of microtonal resonance and noiselessness, these short CDs show how a redeployment of common instrumental sound [...] can create unique soundscapes.
Divided into three sections, «Assemblage» is a strings-driven exercise in pure improvisation by four Portuguese musicians: violinist and violist Ernesto Rodrigues, Manuel Mota on flat electric guitar, Guilherme Rodrigues on cello and pocket trumpet, and the versatile José Oliveira on percussion, prepared acoustic guitar and the insides of the piano.

[...] There's no eardrum torture on tap with «Assemblage», though the sounds do get louder as the session advances. Perhaps though, since violinist Rodrigues has experience playing Portuguese pop music as well as working in free jazz and post-serialist contexts, he makes sure the sounds never get that out of hand. Like the best free music, though, at times it's nearly impossible to figure out which instrument is producing which tone.

"Assemblage II" is probably the track most indicative in understanding the quartet's method. Surging cymbal sizzles meet choked half-valve trumpet effects, which are succeeded by staccatissimo arco work from one of three classical stringed instruments. Oliveira, who has been featured on all of the violist's earlier discs, plucks the strings from inside the piano with such force that it appears as if he's taking the body apart with his bare hands. Squalling slurs from Guilherme Rodrigues' pocket trumpet meet string recoils from Motta or Oliveira's guitar, then Ernesto Rodrigues outlines an entire arco viola chord. As his fingers and bow stroll up the string -- backed by cello strokes -- one of the guitarists scrapes his fret board for maximum resonance, a muffled ringing bell is heard, and drum strokes sound either from percussion, the wooden side of the piano or perhaps a mic itself. As Oliveira leans his entire forearm onto the keyboard for maximum effect, Motta sounds a strident guitar chord with an echoing amp buzz, as someone smites the cymbals, another player finger picks in the background, and the tune decelerates into a flurry of arco sweeps, screeches and whirs. 

Elsewhere Motta, who has recorded his own solo session on Rossbin, seems to be able to switch between tones as dissimilar as full frontal guitar percussion and accentuated Lenny Breau-like chording when the occasion demands. The trumpet is used more for scene-setting blasts than accompaniment, and the most common string output is sandpaper-like abrasion rather than impressionistic glissandos. Stepping away from European atonalism, it also appears that any surface can be used as percussion from the back of the guitar, the front of the cello, or the side of the piano.

Even the more than 18-minute first track eventually accelerates from BritImprov-style silences and tone intimations that include cricket-like shimmers and aviary murmurs to the rumble and crash of cymbals, the scrape of metal on metal and strings that sometimes sound as if they're being wiped with sandpaper. Although unconnected sounds will occasionally resemble ducks' webbed feet swirling up pond water, the restraining sonic impulses of the strings prevent the four from moving into shrill nmperign territory.

Be that as it may, the musicians on this CD have come up with equally valid solutions to meet the challenge of replicating staccato sounds. It can’t be confused with easy listening, but part of music's future.
Ken Waxman (Jazz Weekly)

Para no pocos aficionados españoles al jazz, Portugal ha sido en los últimos años el gran descubrimiento -¡y pensar que en plan chirigota muchas conversaciones se terminaban banalmente con un "menos mal que nos queda Portugal"!-. En un país en el que las programaciones son endémicamente aburridas, faltas de interés y riesgo ha sido como la caída del caballo de Pablo el descubrir que en Coimbra o en Jazz em Agosto se apostaba por lo que aquí no. Y redondeando la faena la llegada del sello Clean Feed. Por supuesto esto no es mas que la punta de un iceberg y una llamada de atención, porque esto no es como los hongos que salen así por las buenas con cuatro gotas. De la ortodoxia del Hot Club a la vanguardia de corte europea de un Zingaro o Telectu pasando por la popular voz de la Joao hay campo para quienes quieran profundizar en la escena del país con el que compartimos península.
En los terrenos de la improvisación electroacústica no podemos por menos que sorprendernos por la existencia de un sello como Creative Source, creado por el violinista Ernesto Rodrigues y que anda ya con siete referencias en el mercado. Las que nos ocupan son las dos últimas que han aparecido.

«Assemblage» nos ofrece una de las propuestas de Ernesto Rodrigues, que como creador del sello esta lógicamente bien documentado en el. Una propuesta valiente, ya que ofrece al oyente/comprador un minutaje que a los que compran la música "al peso" les puede parecer racano ya que no llega a los cuarenta minutos. Es absurdo pretender llenar un disco. Su propuesta queda bien definida en ese formato. Electroacústica en la tradición improvisadora europea con referencia a la contemporánea (Xenakis). Quizá algo acelerados por momentos, pero siempre fluidos. En este proyecto se encuentra bien secundado por su hijo (a modo de unos Maneri lusos) Guilherme con el cello y la trompeta de bolsillo, Manuel Mota a la guitarra y José Oliveira percusión y entrañas del piano. Homogéneos en su discurso, no se su historia anterior (esta grabado en el 2002), pero cuando escribo estas líneas veo en diversas listas que la formación (con el añadido del pianista Gabriel Paiuk) sigue adelante con conciertos en directo. Si hay que felicitarse porque el resultado es interesante también lo haremos porque no es flor de un día en un estudio. Por mi parte un no menos interesante descubrimiento.

Parafraseando a un maestro en esto de la música y la libreimprovisación "ningún sonido es inocente".
Jesus Moreno (Toma Jazz)

Includes 3 thinly spread tracks that range a total of 37:36 (and worth listening to every bit of empty air for the wonderful pricks and prods of noise and improvisation that arrive from the void and jump back and fourth between the hemispheres of the brain). This is a synapse frazzle of ambient improv minimalism created by use of violin, viola, cello, pocket trumpet, electric guitar, inside piano, acoustic guitar, and percussion of sorts. It’s a wild weird ride, very surreal, nervous and twittery, and incredible to investigate in an alone and relaxed atmosphere. Neo-Zine

Ernesto Rodrigues has been working with improvised music and modern forms of composition for over twenty years. Having performed under varied musical circumstances throughout Europe, he is a respected artist aligned with conceptualist thought and is gifted in the use of preparations with stringed instruments. As with many radical 20th century musical figures, we can hear in his music the need to break free from tradition or current accepted practices (trends?), and displace those tendencies with untried methods. Great strides ? a few of which are actually in the forward direction ? can be witnessed in unlikely places. Like Poland and Greece, Portugal’s hub of Lisbon is fast becoming a dependable blip (at least to some of us in the US) on the growing map of groundbreaking music communities. And since we are alluding to tradition here, like New York, Berlin or Kyoto, those places are often identified in terms of art culture, by those who practice in the advancement of the art itself. Rodrigues falls into that group. But one might argue that progress is not the goal his music is currently seeking. Rather, it is process, and it can be heard in the documents of «Assemblage» and the earlier «Ficta», where Rodrigues is joined by his son Guilherme (cello, pocket trumpet) and José Oliveira (percussion). The common thread between the two discs is in the dynamics of the music: were the activity to be graphed in terms of collective pursuit and sonic amplitude, both might be represented as bell curves, from restrained to semi-raucous. As a whole, the music is unassuming, insofar as the sounds can be measured against “threat”. There are some lovely passages, particularly on «Assemblage», where guitarist Manuel Mota accentuates soft, sporadic tones with transients of his own.  Often we find that the sounds come as precious adornments (rather than conscious accomplices), while Rodrigues’ treatments (both literal and figurative) of the violin and viola make for an undercurrent that seem to define these discs’ structure, potency and attitude. Common to past and current systems of similar, explorative music, here there is no tempo. The element of time is completely lost as intention gives way to evolution. Gabriel Paiuk’s piano on «Ficta» is critical in creating this sensation; his playing is quantifiable in terms of its function as mechanical counterpart, but fluctuates in and out of false signatures, an effect created by periodic, variable responses from the other instruments. Further illusory outcomes are achieved by Guilherme Rodrigues’ cello and the disciplined adventurousness of Oliveira’s inside-piano playing on Assemblage. There is much to be held in these quartets’ obvious structural ambiguity. Movable resources (inhibition, experience, technical depth) are at work in celebrating the freedom of improvisation while the musicians seek elusive parallels in one another through their music’s very transformation. This "new" music is highly recommended to both the adventurous and the passive listener. Wonderful, wonderful stuff. Alan Jones (Bagatellen)

Al núcleo de músicos ligados a este sello lisboeta creado en 1999 ­ Ernesto (violín, viola), Guilherme (cello y trompeta de bolsillo) y José (guitarra, piano y percusión) ­ se añade para este «Assemblage», el también músico, compositor, improvisador y guitarrista portugués Manuel Mota, responsable del prestigioso sello Headlights.
En «Assemblage» se trabajan los instrumentos en pequeños trazos, y desde dinámicas casi imperceptibles, en una pieza dividida en tres partes en la que se disponen, precisamente, a ensamblar, una idea de narración musical. Los músicos carecen de una guía o estructura previas a las que recurrir, simplemente la determinación de una composición instantánea, con manifestaciones del conjunto propias ideomáticamente del entorno contemporáneo. Evidente son los toques feldmanianos de Manuel Mota, a veces también en el piano de José Oliveira, aqui también con una destacable aportación de objetos de pequeño calibre, de material tímbrico muy bien aprovechado. El lenguaje y decisiones son manifestamente exploratorios; en ellos, la existencia del riesgo es el fundamento donde la diversidad sonora conforma un dibujo de deconstrucción.
Chema Chacón (Oro Molido)

Asamblaz (z francuskiego: "assemblage" - zbieranie, laczenie) - w sztukach plastycznych, kompozycja powstala z polaczenia w trójwymiarowa calosc róznych elementów, rozmaitych przedmiotów codziennego uzytku, znalezionych odpadków, bezuzytecznych fragmentów rzeczy czy nawet innych dziel plastycznych. Asamblaz, którego swiadome wykorzystanie siega dadaizmu, wywodzi sie z kolazu i ready made. Tytuly plyty, jak i poszczególnych nagran (czesci ?), maja zapewne za zadanie objasnienie muzyki, dzieki czemu sluchacz powinien byc odpowiednio przygotowany do jej odbioru.
W przypadku "Assemblage" nie nalezy zbytnio liczyc na to, ze dzwieki beda ukladaly sie w latwa do ogarniecia calosc, ze utwory beda rozwijac sie linearnie, dazac do jakiejs kulminacji.
Nie, tutaj wszystko co najwazniejsze dzieje sie "tu i teraz"; poszczególne elementy przenikaja sie, raz sie uzupelniajac, to znów pozostajac w opozycji, a nawet wrecz scierajac sie ze soba. Jednak muzycy byli na tyle dobrze przygotowani - "Assemblage" nie jest dzielem przypadku, bowiem czlonkowie kwartetu przed zarejestrowaniem plyty grywali ze soba na koncertach, a i samo nagranie poprzedzily wstepne ustalenia - oraz tak uwaznie sie nawzajem sluchali, ze w ich muzyce ani przez chwile nie pojawia sie chaos. Nie odnosi sie równiez wrazenia, ze jest w jakikolwiek sposob przeladowana, czy tez, ze przytlacza odbiorcy.
Wrecz przeciwnie, pomimo nieustannego napiecia, wydaje sie byc ciepla, przejrzysta i pelna powietrza...
Zadaniem sluchacza jest uwazne przygladanie sie (przepraszam, oczywiscie powinien byl napisac: "wsluchiwanie sie", ale i mnie zmylilo to nawiazanie do sztuk plastycznych) detalom, cieszenie uszu kazdym momentem, kazdym dzwiekiem i próbowanie zlozenia ich w tytulowy asamblaz. Muzycy - Ernesto Rodrigues (skrzypce i altówka), jego syn Guilherme (wiolonczela i kieszonkowa trabka), Manuel Mota (gitara) i Jose Oliveira (instrumenty perkusyjne, gitara, na której to J.O. przewaznie grywa za pomoca smyczka, oraz inside piano, czyli preparowane na rozmaite sposoby struny fortepianu) - wykorzystuja przede wszystkim szorstkie, momentami wrecz brudne dzwieki. Jednak czynia to na tyle umiejetnie – lawirujac przy tym pomiedzy cisza a halasem - ze przez caly czas, nawet w chwilach erupcji, odnosi sie wrazenie obcowania z czyms niezwykle subtelnym i delikatnym. "Assemblage" to niezwykla podróz po ciemnej stronie dzwieku, dowodzaca, ze piekno czai sie wszedzie, nawet, w jak je okresla Jose Oliveira, "porzuconych rejonach muzyki". Tadeusz Kosiek (

Improvisations fortement statiques, épurées et fragmentées dont on semble ne capter que des éclats. Jerôme Noetinger (Metamkine)