é mais um degrau efectuado por Ernesto Rodrigues numa longa e infinita
escadaria que reflecte o seu talento e a sua incansável robustez
criativa. Se considerarmos «Cesura» como uma cicatriz ou como
um rasgo, podemos fazer variadas e imensas leituras subjacentes a este
esplendoroso trabalho. Usando a “cicatriz” como paradigma do estado actual,
Ernesto Rodrigues confere com esta oitava edição da sua
editora Creative Sources um “rasgo” total com tudo o que se tem feito
em termos sonoros no nosso País. Dando lugar ao “ruído”
abstraindo o silêncio, «Cesura» é uma composição
geométrica, serial e nunca hierárquica, compreendida por
um todo. A esta nova fase evolutiva de Ernesto Rodrigues, Alfredo Costa
Monteiro aparece aqui como novidade no que respeita à introdução
do acordeão nos trabalhos do violinista, o restante elenco faz-se
representar como é habitual por Guilherme Rodrigues em violoncelo
e trompete, e pelos sons mais graves expressos pelo contrabaixo eléctrico
de Margarida Garcia.
[...] O caso português tem história por detrás. Música de corte, epistemológico e musical, cita o futurismo, o dadaísmo e o surrealismo enquanto enquadramento, sobretudo ideológicos, de um processo de ruptura. «Cesura» é o resultado desse corte (entre a incisão e a cicatriz) e do “corte do corte” (o pós-modernismo, uma vez mais, em acção), naquele que Ernesto Rodrigues considera ser “o menos musical” dos seus trabalhos (aqui Dada fala mais alto). «Cesura» percorre o caminho da serpente de que falava Pessoa (o caminho iniciático oculto que contorna sinuosamente todas as regras, mesmo as herméticas), escudando-se e auto-reflectindo-se nas sombras, qual Golem predador da tradição. Não se descortinam em «Cesura» melodia, harmonia ou ritmo na acepção vulgar dos termos mas uma tensão e fragmentação contínuas, do som e do silêncio, na procura do caos primordial. Mas pode a música dispensar a matemática? Ou, em última análise, serão as fórmulas cabalísticas de «Cesura» (os títulos são combinações entre as letras da palavra) impenetráveis ao ponto de não se deixarem decifrar? No último e mais longo dos temas uma porta parece abrir-se... Fernando Mgalhães (Público)
and composer Ernesto Rodrigues (1959) has over 20 twenty years of experience
on playing the violin in the context of contemporaty and improvised music.
He is a leading figure on the Portuguese scene for improvised music. In
1999 he began the Creative Sources Recordings label as an outlet for improvised
music he is (often) involved in.
O mais novo disco de Ernesto Rodrigues tem duas estreias na execução desta “não-música” em que dificilmente conseguimos encontrar uma nota convencional - Alfredo Costa Monteiro, portuense “exilado” em Barcelona, onde tem desenvolvido uma interessante carreira, seja com o acordeão ou com uma guitarra eléctrica tocada na horizontal e “abusada” por objectos vários, e Margarida Garcia, contrabaixista de Lisboa recentemente descoberta em Nova Iorque e em Londres e conhecida por tocar sempre o mínimo possível. Guilherme Rodrigues, o violoncelista e trompetista de 15 anos que nos habituámos a ouvir ao lado do seu pai Ernesto, é o quarto elemento. Este é o mais frugal CD que o violinista e violista já lançou, despido de efeitos, tácticas de expressão ou tecnicismos, e nunca como neste título ele esteve tão perto das escolas britânica e alemã da “micro-improvisação”. Aqui temos a resposta ao “hardcore” desta área que o acusava de ainda conjugar demasiada emoção na sua música, mas é de supor que tal tipo de postura não é para continuar - Ernesto Rodrigues sabe que o melhor da sua visão do “near silence” é a ideia criada no ouvinte de que as suas imensas contenções podem estar na iminência de explodir. Aqui, é como se estivéssemos já na ressaca da explosão. Rui Eduardo Paes (JL)
Avendoci a che fare solo attraverso i dischi che pubblica, l’etichetta portoghese della Creative Sources la immaginiamo, in termini più ampi, come una factory dai mille intrecci e iniziative. Forse ancora poco sviluppata ma sicuramente piena di vita. Gli artisti che ruotano intorno ad essa si confrontano e interagiscono tra di loro come una piccola famiglia al cui vertice possiamo individuare senza dubbio alcuno Ernesto Rodrigues, di questa il fondatore. I cambi di formazioni sono frequenti, tra dischi e attività dal vivo, e d'altronde anche questo è alla base della musica improvvisata; verrebbe da dire che scambiando l’ordine dei fattori il risultato non cambia. In realtà non è sempre così, fortunatamente; in questo nuovo «Cesura» sembra abbiano trovato uno degli assetti ideali. Il quartetto è così schierato: Ernesto Rodrigues alla viola, Guilherme Rodrigues alle prese con cello e pocket trumpet, Margarita Garcia all’elettric double bass e Alfredo Costa Monteiro, già apprezzato recentemente per i suoi lavori con Cremaster e I Treni Inerti, col suo fedelissimo accordion. Le prime due tracce, dalla durata contenuta, mostrano un approccio all’impro dai risvolti molto interessanti; qui la strumentazione messa a servizio, e l’uso che se ne fa di essa, spinge verso un crescendo sonoro con tromba, cello e viola sovrapposti a creare un suono stridulo e tagliente fino ad arrivare, nella parte centrale della seconda traccia, ad assumere le fattezze di una sega affilata, tutto questo mentre basso e accordion arricchiscono il quadro con essenziali tocchi percussivi. Negli ultimi due episodi invece, l’atmosfera si fa ad ampio respiro, il suono diventa dilatato e minimale pur tuttavia abbracciando in qualche rara occasione una inaspettata forma di fraseggio in senso lato. Per questo che mi sembra uno dei migliori prodotti licenziati della Creative Sources, la stessa non rinuncia anche stavolta a due che sono gli elementi forti che caratterizzano le sue uscite: una produzione molto attenta e dei suoni bellissimi, e i risultati in termini di qualità, ancora una volta, si vedono. Alfredo Rastelli (Sands-Zine)
This music is material, ductile and erudite at the same time; when four instrumental entities make you forget their original voice, fusing together into a single creeping lesson in economy of means, something good has surely occurred. "Cesura" is omnirange, pressurized, apparently of scarce visibility yet often quite knockabout...only to fall into the long arms of silence, again. The musicians maltreat their instrumental extensions, bending them to their needs; the instruments respond accordingly, turning into a mass of fuming ashes from where small firelights and tiny pops crackle incessantly. This is a sort of an auto-orchestration in the middle of a forgotten place where microsurgery and raw splinters of rotten wood weigh just the same - and where rusty is more beautiful than shiny. Another important chapter of Creative Sources' ever-so-involving history. Massimo Ricci (Touching Extremes)
The inside notes are going to help me out a little bit with this one: “Cesura is a Portuguese word which refers both to the act of cutting and to the scar that very same act produces. Cause and effect simultaneously…this music is cut with a flick knife over the surface of silence, which is why Ernesto boasts that it is his least musical work.” . Silence is a prevalent force in this recording, but it is dominated by short lacerations of sound that scar its precious loneliness with ugly tokens of violence. This is minimalism at a stab. I think that it is very important to understand the concept before jumping head first into this recording. Without knowledge of intent, this could be much more easily dismissed as random noise. Now I know, and I can feel the pain. This is pretty beautiful in its strange combination of abstract and graphicness. (Neo-Zine)
The most daring experimental music is often met with great scepticism. This quartet marvelously represents the paradox of cutting-edge music: the trained ear almost immediately detects an incredible level of focus in the playing and an astounding resourcefulness in obliterating idiosyncratic clichés -- yet the common listener hears only scratches and grunts and will most likely call it a con or judge it as not being music at all. Viola player Ernesto Rodrigues, his son cellist Guilherme, bassist Margarida Garcia (playing an electric double bass, a rare choice among free improvisers) and accordionist Alfredo Costa Monteiro all focus their attention on the sound conceived as a material object, thrown into the tri-dimensional space comprised between the listener’s ears. Their music carries the labor of having to make critical artistic choices every tenth of a second, the joy of succeeding in doing so, and the excitement of four artists communicating on a level that is both highly intellectual (in its abstraction) and deeply atavistic (in its coming back to an unregulated form of expression). What does all this rambling say about the music?, you may ask. It says that the music consists of softly screeching strings, of an accordion being scratched and tapped (a note is occasionally squeezed out, at the threshold of a vibrating reed), of a bass purring away -- music redefining itself while redefining your understanding of music, constantly sidestepping your expectations. The intersecting discourses are articulated in cut sequences, like alexandrine verses and their pauses (“cesura” in Portuguese). This is a stunning recording. François Couture (AMG)
«Cesura» is the latest in a series of Creative Sources releases that feature Portuguese violinist / violist Ernesto Rodrigues in company with various improvisers. Rui Eduardo Paes reports Rodrigues as saying that «Cesura» is his least musical work. Maybe so, but it is also one of his best. The instruments listed as appearing on «Cesura» include a pocket trumpet and an accordion. No doubt these play essential parts in the group’s sound, but it is Ernesto Rodrigues’s viola, Guilherme Rodrigues’s cello and Margarida Garcia’s electric double bass that appear to predominate. Bows are dragged slowly over strings and other parts of the instruments, producing an array of slowly unfolding microtonal creaks, shrieks, groans and howls of different pitches, timbres and textures. Instruments are also plucked, rubbed, struck and twisted, yielding complementary layers of sharp percussive retorts, splintering sounds, and other plangent expressions of distressed wood and steel. At times the music rises to an agitated hubbub, but there is no tedious Bell Curve of intensity and activity; the musicians evidently feel under no compulsion to play continuously, and contributions and interactions are often quickly superseded by pensive intermissions. Repeatedly punctuated by silence in this way, the music slowly unfolds with a claustrophobic vividness and considerable melancholy power. If such description makes the music sound somewhat sepulchral, so be it: “cesura” is Portuguese for “cut”, and it is not entirely fanciful to think of Rodrigues and his companions as carving up the decayed corpse of the traditional chamber string ensemble, replete with its putrescent inheritance of conventional instrumental techniques and tonal repertoire, in search of a new and unlovely revenant better suited to desperate and disillusioned times. In so doing, they have produced an excellent recording, full of a dark and sanguinary beauty all its own. Strongly recommended. Wayne Spencer (Paris Transatlantic)
nuevas entregas de este magnífico sello portugues que bien pueden
satisfacer a los amantes de la libreimprovisación en su derivación
ambient minimal berlinesa. El primero de ellos nos presenta una propuesta
de los Rodrigues, “los amos de la burra” mientras el segundo nos ofrece
a popes de la escena “madre”.
[…] Again rather difficult to describe except, maybe, as a cascade of textures, irregularly spaced, in fourfold depth, one after another (or four after four others), as varied and alike as people walking by on the street. As with much of the other music here, there’s such a convincing evocation of space surrounding the sounds, that one accepts the proceedings almost in a trompe l’oeil sense. Whatever sound emerges, sounds right. There’s dryness but not aridity, instruments whispering past each other, glancing off, rolling under. Have I mentioned how granular these guys are? […] Everything heard here reinforces my ongoing conviction that some of the finest, most distinctive new music around is being created between Barcelona and Lisbon. Check it out. Brian (Bagatellen)
I’ve written elsewhere, the real success of free improvisation as
an international music comes only to the extent that it maintains its
vitality as a local music. Almost every major player you can think of,
from Evan Parker to Ken Vandermark, is a stalwart member of a local scene.
So it’s always with some delight that I dig into a new cluster of
players from a new locale. Such is the case with the fine Portuguese improvisers
featured on «Cesura»: violist Ernesto Rodrigues, his cellist
son Guilherme, accordionist Alfredo Costa Monteiro, and electric double
bassist Margarida Garcia (who now lives in New York). The title is the
Portuguese word for pauses, which gives a good indication as to the methodology
employed in this highly abstract music. But the term also refers to “both
the act of cutting and to the scar that very same act produces,”
according to Rui Eduardo Paes. That’s an interesting gloss on music
as thoughtful and self-aware as this.
utgivelser fra portugisiske Creative Sources som gjør dypdykk i
lydenes mikrokosmos. John Stevens’ S.M.E og syttitallets såkalte
”insektmusikk” er naturlig sammenligningsgrunnlag, gjennom
en i all hovedsak stille, arytmisk og atonal uttrykksform. Elektronikken
er rent fysisk fraværende, men påkalles ved kirurgisk disseksjon
av det akustiske materialets klanglige potensial. Klamt og klaustrofobisk,
nesten som å være innelukket i instrumentene; uttrykkets renskårne
materialitet stenger effektivt for tankens flukt.
wiolonczela, kontabas, akordeon, trabka... oto lista wszystkich instrumentów,
które posluzyly kwartetowi Rodrigues-Costa Monteiro-Rodrigues-Garcia
do stworzenia plyty "Cesura". Jednak w tym przypadku nie przemawiaja
one swoimi typowymi glosami, ani przez chwile nie snuja urokliwych melodii,
nie wydaja przyjaznych uchu dzwieków. W zamian slyszymy szorstkie,
drapiace, szurajace tony i przez czterdziesci trzy minuty mamy okazje
obcowac z muzyka*, która nieustannie zgrzyta, szumi, szura. Muzycy
potraktowawszy swoje instrumenty jako zródlo dzwieku, podchodza
do nich w sposób totalny, wykorzystujac ich wszelkie - a nie tylko
zwykle kojarzace sie z gra na nich - elementy. Chropowate, trzeszczace
dzwieki powoli tna cisze, wynurzaja sie z niej, tylko po to, by dac swiadectwo
swojego istnienia i po chwili znów w niej tona.
sûr, il faut tendre l’oreille. Bien sûr, cette musique
est si légère en apparence que, Dieu sait pourquoi, on éprouve
soudain le besoin d’aller fermer la porte, de peur sans doute qu’elle
ne s’envole ou qu’un véhicule importun n’en vienne
perturber la fragile ordonnance. Peut-être même Cesura est-il
à l’initiative d’un New Lisbon Silence, lointain cousin
lusitanien de ces courants minimalistes, berlinois, ou londonien, dont
Jim Denley nous parlait récement avec tant d’intelligence.
Mais faut-il pour cela lui jeter la pierre?
Rui Eduardo Paes écrit dans les notes de pochettes: "Cette musique est coupée avec un couteau sur la surface du silence; c'est pour cela qu'Ernesto dit qu'il s'agit de son travail le "moins musical". Chaque coup sonore, chaque construction soudainement creusée dans la séquentialité est une marque laissée sur le temps et un mouvement, un geste contre l'inertie.Une poésie de restes, en un mot. Froide et clinique peut-être, mais d'une humanité tranchante". Le dramatisme de cette musique est accentué par une prise de son très raprochée qui ôte toute perspective sonore. Un détail peut alors occuper tout le champ par un effet de focalisation qui va parfois jusqu'à donner l'impression dun son interne du corps. Les musiciens alternent subtilement le grave et l'aigu, les frottements et les chocs, les sons intrumentaux et les bruits, les souffles et les frottements et provoquent l'imaginaire sans se laisser embarquer par lui, ils le dévoient, le déplacent. L'auditeur qui pense avoir compris voit qu'il s'agit d'encore autre chose. Noël Tachet (Improjazz)
Cet ensemble s'inscrit dans le contexte actuel de l'improvisation où l'instrument parait parfois retourné sur lui-même. Il est exploré, grossi, pour créer des textures dans des nouveaux modes de jeux. Une autre organisation du sonore à l'écoute du détail et influencé d'une certaine manière par la musique électronique. Jerôme Noetinger (Metamkine)
This is an extremely strong and creative disc of improvised music. It is not new, in fact it was recorded almost exactly five years ago to the day, but I want to write about it because although it got several favourable reviews when it was released, I feel that it has since been largely overlooked and forgotten. This forgetting is partly due to the fact that all four musicians have been pretty prolific since then and between them have released dozens of newer discs. Cesura was released on Portuguese violist Ernesto Rodrigues’ own Creative Sources label, and that too is part of the problem. Ernesto and his cellist son Guilherme are both excellent musicians, but tend to get overlooked because virtually all their music is self-published on their own label.
Cesura was the eighth CD on Creative Sources which had started up two years earlier in 2001, but in the five years since then the label has developed a massive catalogue, running now to over 130 discs. 120 new discs in five years means one a fortnight, so even if you had the money to buy them all, it would be virtually impossible to keep up. And there are scores of other labels releasing improvised music – none perhaps quite so frequently as Creative Sources – but altogether it means that there is a huge glut of material out there. These days it is so easy and inexpensive to issue a disc that, compared to the early days of improvised music when LP’s came in drips, this corner of new music is now flooded with wave on wave of releases. And this at a time when CD sales are falling dramatically. It doesn’t make any economic sense. But then it never did, because CD’s and labels featuring improvised music are labours of love rather than economically balanced entities, and people are prepared to lose significant amounts of money in order to get their music published. Inevitably though, with so many improv discs around the quality is very variable, and sadly this means that some excellent music gets lost amidst the chaff and receives little or no attention. And some of those that are noticed are then quickly forgotten with the next flurry of releases. Such is, I think, the case with Cesura.
In the brief sleevenotes Rui Eduardo Paes tells us that the Portuguese word ‘cesura’ refers both to the act of cutting and to the scar caused by that act. He writes that “this music is cut with a flick knife over the surface of silence.” Ironically the album was produced at a time when there was something of a rift cutting through the world of improvised music, and much of the argument was around the notion of silence. Across the world groups of new and (generally) younger players had begun to produce a different music to that of the established generation of improvisers who had largely come out of the free jazz world of the 60’s and 70’s. For a while things became quite polarised; some people felt that they had to take sides and some relationships (musical and social) came to an acrimonious end. Putting it ridiculously crudely, the ‘old’ style which had valued instrumental virtuosity above all was dubbed European Free Improvisation (EFI), while the new lower-case style was ‘electro-acoustic improvisation’ (eai) in which silence (or at least an attention to small sounds) and the use of electronics were what set the pulses racing. So in England Evan Parker’s lightning quick polyphonic playing in his trio with Barry Guy and Paul Lytton was considered archetypal EFI, while the quiet explorations of the IST trio (Simon Fell, Rhodri Davies and Mark Wastell) were pure eai. And in Germany anything with old heroes Peter Brötzmann and Paul Lovens was EFI, while anything with Burkhard Beins or Axel Dörner was eai.
In reality of course a lot of musicians – including some of those mentioned above - moved (and still move) quite happily between these two polarised stereotypes, and a lot of music was (and is) produced which doesn’t fit neatly into either camp. But the fact remains that from about 1998 new styles of improvising were emerging and an album likeCesura is very much a product of those shifts in emphasis.
There are four tracks, the first three between 6 and 9 minutes long, and the last significantly longer at 21:31. But listening to the album it is very difficult to hear clear divisions (caesurae) between one piece and the next, especially because the silences between tracks are so brief. There are no dramatic climaxes or finales or resolutions of musical material; that is not what the new style was about. You could play the tracks in a random order and the disc would be just as strong. What the music does have is an extraordinary attention to detail, to producing and listening to small sounds and noises as they occur in the present. Yes, there are passages when the music speeds up or slows down, gets denser or rougher, or when the volume increases or falls back into silence. But none of this is the working through of a structural logic, or even of a felt structure (such as the much over-used arch form, by which an improvisation starts gently, becomes loud and increasingly frenetic, and then tails off in a shorter quiet coda). The music simply ‘is’ in the moment, and the musicians react to each other’s sounds in a commendably quick and open way.
Given the instrumentation it is not surprising that string and bowed textures predominate, but not a single ‘pure’ string tone is heard across the 43 minutes. This is a music of scraping, rustling and sawing, with a fair few bumps and knocks to boot. Margarida Garcia’s electric bass gives an extra twanging harshness to the mix, while Alfredo Costa Monteiro’s accordion rasps, wheezes and rattles in such a way that it’s impossible to imagine that this instrument was originally designed to accompany folk songs. Sometimes quiet sustained sounds dominate, but these quickly give way to a busy scurrying as the music ebbs, flows and eddies on and around and then back again towards near-silence. The focus is on getting inside, expanding and transforming the textures of the sounds rather than displaying any great instrumental virtuosity. And from this intense determined exploration a strange fragmented beauty emerges.
But much of the above paragraph would adequately describe dozens of other improvised CD’s from the past 10 years. So why pick out Cesura? Objectively I don’t think there is a good reason; there are doubtless several other similarly excellent improv albums from the same era that sit forgotten on my shelves while I keep coming back to this one. But for whatever reason Cesura has come to represent for me a small moment in the history of improvised music. It’s a snapshot of a time when something new was asserting itself with a freshness and excitement that I think can still be heard in the enthusiasm of the playing with these rough woody textures. Portugal was newly emerging as a centre for radical improvisation, and ‘eai’ was still a pre-school kid, playing and experimenting with eyes and ears wide open. And I also like the fact that it doesn’t quite fit the stereotypes of the EFI/eai split. There are no electronics at all on the album; it is emphatically and delightfully acoustic. Nor does it make a big issue of its silences; yes they are there, but the music moves on quickly and isn’t afraid to become noisily abrasive at times. This was exciting stuff; new possibilities were being explored and there were no perceived ideas, no habitual gestures and no fixed rules about how these explorations might be conducted. Lucy Ellward (Heard Aside)