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[…] On a total opposite we find the solo disc by guitar player Ferran Fages, one of the leading Spanish improvisers. He plays electric guitar here and has fifteen (although the covers gives thirteen titles) pieces of subdued playing. Strumming notes and chords in very short pieces, almost like sketches. Fages pays tribute I think to Mazzacane Connors in his open, spacious sounds. Desolate road music, strongely melancholic, and chilling to the bone. Almost un-improvised, I'd say. Frans de Waard (Vital Weekly)

The Catalan guitarist Ferran Fages was introduced to avant-garde audiences by Ernesto Rodrigues’ reputed Creative Sources label.
Despite the imprint’s history in quiet, scaled-down experimental music, «A Cavall Entre Dos Cavalls» comes as a surprise. This set of electric guitar solos (13 titles, two more unannounced) is very listener friendly: gentle, mostly tonal, pleasant. Ferran’s short pieces (written pieces, not improvisations as could be expected) involve slow strumming and chord variations presented thoughtfully. Loren Mazzacane Connors comes immediately to mind, along with Ernesto Diaz-Infante’s first albums (of piano music, but with the same kind of naivete) and Steffen Basho-Junghans (his “Virgin Orchestra” series). Maybe also the softness of Ben Monder (minus the jazz element). The album is strongly inhabited by a sense of discovery, of finding one’s true self as the notes and chords are delicately played. A first listen highlights the prettiness of it all, while giving the impression that substance is lacking -- and the short duration of the album (33 minutes and a half) contributes to the latter. But subsequent listens dispel the vagueness in aim and reveal that the prettiness will not fade with time. What at first sounds like pointless meanders is ultimately heard as a clear statement. A statement that happens to be easy on the ears and prone to meditation. François Couture (All Music Guide)

This record is pretty unusual for Fages; those who know him as a noise priest with Cremaster will have a hard time recognizing his hand in these segments, played on a guitar without effects, with just a naked "string-and-finger" approach to a slow meditation. Devoid of any trick, just left there like an immobile stone, these 33 minutes show Ferran in intimate settings studying combinations of resonant strums and humming bass, slight detunings and detached calm. Everything is left as played, including uncertainties and crackles, so that the whole work sounds austere and sombre throughout. Standing halfway through the quietest work by Noel Akchoté and Loren Connors, it's likely one will appreciate "A cavall entre dos cavalls" more and more through repeated listenings; I suggest doing it through speakers more than headphones, as the peculiar mixtures of frequencies are better helped by objects and walls refracting them. Massimo Ricci (Touching Extremes)

Guitar-driven popular music has served as one of the principal means by which contemporary capitalism has seduced youthful and other consumers into associating their desires, dreams and rebellions with the narrow and conventional products of the system of commodity replication. As each year passes, the inanities of popular music, hopelessly ensnared in the world of corporate power and the delusions of tawdry stardom, increasingly saturate the soundscapes of the planet, forming an ever-more ubiquitous system of ideas, images, affects and actions for the enchantment of the febrile but conformist products of the hedonistic stage of late capitalism. Along the way, the scant resources of rock and pop’s myopic musical vision, ruthlessly depleted by endless minor variations and pseudo-innovations within the iron cage of its stupefying backbeat, have come to resemble an exhausted prison rock face compulsively quarried by a weary band of drugged convicts half in love with the rattling of their rusted chains. If the electric guitar is to emerge from this state of historical aesthetic crisis and distance itself from its degraded position as dealer for narcotic capitalism, the most radical of action would seem to be required. Unfortunately, A Cavall entre dos Cavalls, a solo album of parsimonious but generally quite conventional compositions by Ferran Fages, a self-taught Spanish guitarist perhaps best know for his membership of the group Cremaster, doesn't take us far towards that goal. This is not to deny that, when viewed from within popular music’s reigning aesthetics, there is a muted elegance in the insidious slow drip and decay of Fages’ spare sequences of notes and chords – indeed the album should be keenly sought by admirers of, say, John Fahey and Jack Rose who are open to work that is more austere and less strongly flavoured with folk and blues idioms, as well as anyone who enjoys the early work of Taku Sugimoto – but surely it is not unreasonable to expect much more than this at the start of the 21st century. Wayne Spencer (Paris Transatlantic)

About a year ago, I first reviewed a Creative Sources disc for Dusted and noted that improvised music would be nothing without local scenes and the labels dedicated to documenting them. That’s still true. But when people start to take notice, the next level is the formation of links with other scenes. The Lisbon-based label – run by Ernesto Rodrigues, an excellent improviser who plays on some of the label’s releases – has made that next step. Along with labels like Erstwhile, For4Ears, Confront, Meniscus, and Potlatch, this imprint is documenting some of the finest “lowercase” improvisation around and has become a label with a strong track record and a global focus. Their release schedule has really picked up of late too. In fact, they’ve just dropped a quintet of recordings featuring a fairly broad array of European improvisers. Many readers won’t be too familiar with the majority of the players. That deserves to change.
Multi-instrumentalist Ferran Fages was, like Barberán, a participant in 2004’s raucous, exciting Atolón, whose fractiousness and sheer declamatory power are miles away from this release (Creative Sources will release a new recording by this trio – rounded out by Alfredo Costa Monteiro’s accordion – very shortly). He’s also half of Cremaster. On his solo disc A Cavall Entre dos Cavalls, Fages here trades in his acoustic turntable (no, I don’t really know how it works either) for a clean toned electric guitar. In just over thirty minutes, Fages deliver fifteen brief tracks (with only two breaking the three-minute mark). He strums quite a bit, occasionally summing wisps of feedback and overtones, and frequently makes some very emphatic asides where he nails harmonics or some simple repeated motifs in a style that recalls a cross between Derek Bailey and early Taku Sugimoto. For the most part, though there is structure to these pieces and they are accessible, Fages seems less concerned with harmony than with texture and gesture. A minor chord is simply an evocation, struck more for the way it resonates than anything else. The music is filled with hesitations and tentativeness as well and at times even seems to concentrate on its own idiosyncrasies (the slight distorted muffle of the low end, for example, or slight intonation problems in the upper register). This is solo guitar that’s lonely, pared-down, and possessed of its own weird elegance and a healthy dose of melancholy.
[…] Taken as a whole, this quintet of discs is pretty satisfying. While some clearly work better than others, they give improv freaks some insight into what’s happening in some lesser-known European scenes. They also confirm the strength and identity of this excellent label. Jason Bivins (Dusted Magazine)

Dilatazione: ma non fino a certe rarefazioni che espandono corpuscoli di suono nell'aria fino a farne atomi sulle cui origini sbandate ci si interroga, bensì fino a un livello di espansione del tempo e delle dinamiche che segue immaginarie indicazioni di supposte partiture che dicono "con assoluta indifferenza" o "senza curarsi del tempo che ci invecchia". Ferran Fages trasferisce su chitarra elettrica molte di quelle indifferenze esistenziali che anche compositori ben più complessi come Morton Feldman filtravano nelle pagine delle loro infinite composizioni.
Impostato un metronomo mentale e annullata ogni possibile risorsa agonica, rimane il suono articolato/disarticolato di una chitarra che si interroga sul suo percorso con apatia. Suono minimo, disarmanti armonie ripetitive e ripetute, estenuanti unisoni, elementarità disorientate. Forse per tutti questi motivi messi insieme anche questo suono riesce a farsi ascoltare nel suo desolante ritaglio quotidiano. Michele Coralli (Altremusiche)

Zdjecia, zamieszczone na okladce plyty "A cavall entre dos cavalls",
Dosc dobrze oddaja klimat wypelniajacej ja muzyki. Szare, nieco jakby zamglone kadry, przedstawiajace kontury, niewyraznie ukazanych nieefektownych budynków, ewokuja nastrój smutku i opuszczenia; jakies bezdennej melancholii. Wydaja sie byc proste i nie upozowane, podobnie jak tych kilkanascie kompozycji zagranych przez hiszpanskiego (miedzy innymi) gitarzyste. Autorem zdjec, jak i muzyki jest sam Ferran Fages, sadzic wiec mozna, ze istnieje pomiedzy nimi istotny zwiazek.
Pozornie prosta, minimalistyczna muzyka Fagesa - oparta na pojedynczych, oszczednie dawkowanych akordach, które powoli wybrzmiewajac, sprawiaja wrazenie stojacych w miejscu - zdaje sie posiadac drugie dno.
Uwazne wsluchanie sie i ogarniecie calosci pozwala w pelni docenic efekt nadzwyczaj konsekwentnej jej autora. Powtarzane po wielokroc, wcale lub nieznacznie tylko modyfikowane, dzwieki ukladaja sie w sekwencje, które zaskakujac nieczestym mariazem precyzji i finezji, powoli skladaja sie w przekonywujacy ciag nut przeradzajacych sie, ku niemalemu zaskoczeniu sluchacza, w dopracowana do ostatniego szczególu, zamknieta calosc.
Chcialbym od razu wyjasnic, ze termin: "precyzja" odnosi sie nie tyle do gry gitarzysty - bowiem tu pojawiaja sie lekkie zabrudzenia - lecz do sposobu budowania wewnetrznej struktury utworów.
Choc Fages zdaje sie nie poswiecac wiele uwagi melodii, to jego kompozycje, bedac nieco surowymi, sa jednoczesnie bardzo urokliwe.
Jednak o sile A cavall entre dos cavalls nie stanowia pojedyncze nagrania, lecz ich suma, dlatego plyty tej nalezy sluchac od poczatku do konca; najlepiej glosno, by rezonujace dzwieki calkowicie wypelniajac pokój, narastaly.
Spokojna, wyciszona, ba, wrecz przygaszona muzyka, która sprawic powinna wiele przyjemnosci milosnikom Johna Faheya, Taku Sugimoto (z okresu "Opposite"), czy Lorena (Mazzacane) Connorsa, moze stanowic byc zaskoczenie dla tych, którzy poznali Fagesa jako halasliwego szermierza "no input mixing desk" (to przede wszystkim z nagran, wspóltworzonego z Alfredo Costa Monteiro, duetu Cremaster) oraz mistrza przerazliwego "acoustic turntable" (tu szczególnie polecam plyte Atolon, firmowana ze wspomnianym juz Alfredo Costa Monteiro i Ruth Barberan). Sadze jednak, ze te melancholijne I przepelnione wahaniem nagrania powinny przypasc do gustu zarówno pierwszym, jak i drugim; pozwalam sobie polecic je równiez i tym, którzy - choc obce sa wszystkie wymienione przeze mnie nazwiska oraz nazwy - poszukuja czegos delikatnego i nie przeslodzonego. Tadeusz Kosiek (www.vivo.pl/gaz-eta)

Quando um determinado músico ou artista sonoro nos habitua a uma sonoridade e a um tipo de investimento muito específicos, é natural o desconcerto quando nos oferece algo de muito distinto. Foi o que aconteceu com «A Cavall entre dos Cavalls», mal recebido nos mesmos meios que aplaudem as incursões mais radicais do catalão Ferran Fages. A reacção é compreensiva, ainda que, na opinião deste crítico, seja injusta, pois assim está-se a castigar o que devia ser o mais elementar direito de todo e qualquer criador: a pluralidade das orientações. Fages tem-se dado a conhecer aos comandos de uma mesa de mistura sem “input”, à semelhança de Toshimaru Nakamura, e do que chama de “gira-discos acústico”, pelo facto de funcionar apenas com a amplificação do “pickup”. Desconhecem muitos dos seus ouvintes que ele é, sobretudo, um guitarrista, e é precisamente com a guitarra eléctrica que surge naquele disco, inserido num mundo sonoro (e neste caso declaradamente “musical”) bem distante do fragmentarismo extremo, da abordagem textural por microtons e do “near silence” bruitista a que nos habituou. Num misto de Loren Mazzacane Connors e Oren Ambarchi, ou seja, entre o folk/blues deturpado do primeiro, tocado directamente com os dedos e dispensando pedais de efeitos, e o sentido atmosférico, elegante e depurado do segundo, «A Cavall...» demonstra que o membro do projecto Cremaster também tem algo a dizer nos domínios da melodia e do trabalho harmónico. Que não necessariamente de forma convencional. As suas melodias, aliás, são quebradas, incompletas e apenas alusivas, no sentido de que são mais implícitas do que explícitas. Seja como for, este título é uma ilha no meio dos seus muitos investimentos “noise”, até por incluir peças compostas, quando o que geralmente faz é improvisado. Rui Eduardo Paes (JL)

Thanks to the efforts of the Portuguese Creative Sources label and a handful of others, a fertile improvisation scene in Spain and Portugal is starting to get some visibility. Putting out releases at a phenomenal rate, Creative Sources is documenting the impressive output of musicians like label-founder Ernesto Rodrigues, Ruth Barberán, Margarida Garcia, Alfredo Costa Monteiro, Manuel Mota, and Ferran Fages . Multi-instrumentalist Fages has been a key member of the Barcelona scene, most notably as part of a trio with Barberán and Costa Monteiro and as part of the duo Cremaster. In those contexts he has stuck to electronics, no-input mixing board, and “acoustic turntable”. But he began as a guitarist, and he sticks to effects-free electric guitar for his solo recording debut.
Those expecting the flayed striations of his trio with Barberán and Costa Monteiro are in for a surprise here. Instead, Fages spends 33+ minutes laying out 15 quiet meditations for guitar. Abrasive abstractions are traded in for approachable rudiments of chords and notes. On first listen, these stripped-down pieces revel in lyrical abstractions built on the sonorities of jazz and blues guitar, with hanging strums and clean-toned harmonics. But a closer listen reveals the guitarist’s structural aesthetic at play. These miniature compositional forms are built from the fundamentals of attack and sustain, repeated plucked notes, and the full range of the guitar, from bell-like harmonics to rumbling bass notes. Like his electronic works, gesture, timbre, and density become formal musical elements. These come off like sound paintings working with bewitchingly modulating gestures and resonance hung against a ground of absorbing silence. This may not make the mark of last year’s Atolón, but it reveals yet another facet of a new talent worth keeping an eye on. Michael Rosenstein (One Final Note)

L’etichetta portoghese Creative Sources sta attraversando un momento particolarmente felice, lo testimoniano le numerose pubblicazioni di recente data, quasi tutte su ottimi livelli qualitativi. Ecco qua, dopo “Pocket Progressive” del trio fhievel, Sigurtà & Rocchetti già recensito su queste pagine, tre nuovi lavori in grado di soddisfare gli appassionati.
[…] Anche “A cavall entre dos cavalls” introduce nei circuiti della sperimentazione un nome nuovo: quello del chitarrista catalano Ferran Fages. La scritta ‘composicions per a guitarra’ posta sotto al titolo mostra l’intento di evitare pratiche improvvisative per dedicarsi alla scrittura dettagliata. Una forma difficile da riscontrare durante l’ascolto, visto il fluire nelle orecchie di una musica surreale che non nasconde l’idea di essere stata partorita al momento. Corde dal sapore onirico, centellinate quanto malinconiche, che pongono in prima fila negli input del chitarrista il blues oscuro e intimo di Loren Mazzacane Connors, senza dimenticare, però, quello narcolettico e feldmaniano di Taku Sugimoto. Intervalli profondi, note che echeggiano lontanamente nel buio, che s’incastrano tra di loro con dolcezza, sfiorandosi appena…
[…] Tre dischi dal mood introspettivo che, esclusa qualche riserva per il mazzacanoso “A cavall entre dos cavalls”, convincono appieno e fanno ben sperare per la prossima sfornata della Creative Sources… che già incombe sulle nostre scrivanie. Sergio Eletto (Sands-Zine)

[…] Ferran Fages de son côté abandonne tout son attirail d’effets et de platine tourne-disques avec lequel il parcourt depuis peu les scenes européennes au sein de diverses formations (le duo Creamaster, son trio avec Jean-Philippe Gross et Will Guthrie…).
“A Cavall entre dos Cavalls” est en effet un recueil de pure guitarre électrique. Le musicien de Barcelone livre une quinzaine de miniatures de facture meditative, exploitant quelques sonorités entre jazz et blues pour en faire des études sur un mode minimal et épuré, assez proche de l’esprit des compositions de Morton Feldman, jouant par exemple des phénomènes de resonance des notes basses sur lesquelles peuvent se greffer les sonorities aigrelettes plus aiguës. Pierre Durr (Révue & Corrigée)

Dans ce solo, Ferran Fages utilise la guitare électrique sans pédale ni aucune sorte de manipulation du son, à la manière d'une guitare classique, pour le volume et la durée des sons qu'elle permet. Il compose avec le silence, l'opposition des registres graves et aigus, la légèreté des harmoniques et le gras des cordes basses amplifiées, quelques beaux accords, la variation des sonorités selon la distance de la main au chevalet et la manière dont le doigt touche la corde. Tout cela entretien, avec un vocabulaire harmonique intrigant et un sens mélodique réduit, une sorte de suspens. Les petites phrases de Ferran Fages ont le bon goût de n'évoquer rien ni personne, de ne se refermer sur rien. Il les articule entre elles au gré d'un excellent sens rythmique plastique: que remplir? comment? jusqu'à quel point? L'espace musical de ses courtes compositions en devient pulsatile et vibrant. Noël Tachet (Improjazz)