sen |cs033








































While Ernesto and Guilherme Rodrigues are featured on their customary instruments (viola, cello and pocket trumpet) Toshihiro Koike - whose playing I meet for the first time - is a trombonist, here strategically placed at the centre of the stereo field in the mix, with father and son sharing the left and right channels. "Sen" is one of those episodes in which the sum of the parts gives exactly what expected; starting from pretty disciplined arco dragging, we walk across a series of sonic circumstances ranging from the über-shrilling to the acceptably dissonant, with the strings working as producers of feeble harmonics, metallic caressing and snapping bounces while Koike alternates various kinds of techniques to produce sounds that are influenced both by the gurgling liquids of the mouth and the belching, droning rumble of air pressure into the instrument's tubes. These timbral associations are not exactly new in terms of surprising results but give a pretty defined idea about the places the artists decide to stop in, their interest in combinations and parallelisms of harshness and malleability ever informed by their reciprocal listening capabilities. A little colder than other collectives involving the Rodrigueses, these two improvisations must be taken for what they are: experiments without any pretence of philosophical or ideological interpretation, much less aesthetic meaning - even if they do express an aesthetic of sorts. Massimo Ricci (Touching Extremes)

The context is still that of electro-acoustic improvisation, the language is quite mature, I really like the way it all sounds, it's tight and soft but above all it's slow if you're confidential with this kind of music, let's say they barely play. While wondering if in contemporary improvisation there's a sort of unsaid fear of sounding "melodic" some of these radical sketches this trio draws while improvising, become almost expressive: it means while giving a sounds to the unspoken voice of their instruments they do it keeping in mind a voice is generally meant to articulate a sort of communication or a proper dialogue. While the recording is not completely clean since you have that sort of ambiental buzz typical of live recordings (but this a studio one), it fits really well with the sound of this trio since it has a good definition and at the same time is incredibly warm. While the first of these two suites is more quiet, the second one starts more incisively and pictures the players involved in a most vigorous way of playing, but don't worry it doesn't imply they become neither aggressive nor free (meant in a way jazz solos/jams are meant). This cd follows the philosophy of a few sound floating in the air for a suitable amount of time, I mean you won't hear your usual short acoustical strikes as if there was an earthquake going on in the middle of the studio. Sometimes I've caught myself thinking they could have reduced these two long tracks in a number of minor episodes, but I think they wanted to freeze the whole momentum/experience of the recording session and if that's the reason, no one can blame them for this choice. Andrea Ferraris (Chain DLK)

Tonight I went to Oxford for a meal (Mongolian) with Julie, and so my listening in the car was mainly Spandau Ballet and A-ha, but this afternoon, once I had stopped working my way through assorted string quartets I listened to a couple more CDs from the Creative Sources pile, and then span them again tonight. Both of these involve the father/son combination of Ernesto and Guilherme Rodrigues, like a good number of the CS catalogue. This is not a surprise when you remember it is they that run the label. (On a completely tangental note, I wonder where on earth they store all those CDs? there are only ten Cathnor releases and I struggle…) Anyway the first of the discs I played is a trio, with Toshihiro Koike’s trombone added to the Rodrigues’ usual Cello / viola combination, though on this album, which is named Sen, Guilherme also plays a pocket trumpet.
The album was released back in 2006, and recorded (in Lisbon) as long ago as December 2004, so its a little dated, but Ernesto included this one when he sent me a box of new releases recently, and as I committed myself to writing about each of them here I am. The good thing is, it doesn’t sound dated. While there is a lot of extended technique going on here, and all three instruments are used in a dry, textural manner the music is not quiet or particularly restrained. For the most part there is a bright energy to the music, a kind of clash of brittle surfaces sat at strange angles to one another. I am, for some odd reason reminded of the scarlet of rusting cars piled up in a scrapyard, all twisted metal with the light from above casting strangely shaped shadows upon them. A bizarre way of describing music perhaps, but Sen has a kind of jagged, loose construction to it, full of gloriously colourful texture in one place, dark, potentially dangerous edges elsewhere.
A less vividly imagined description would be a nicely balanced, carefully considered trio working within a narrow set of sounds that are often hard to tell apart. On only one occasion do we hear strings bowed in a traditional manner. Mostly the body of the two chamber instruments are scraped, rubbed and bowed, often in twisting, semi-rhythmic circles. they are recorded up close, in places so close that an almost contact mic degree of sensitivity is obtained. The trombone is splattered about in an equally abstract style, never really sounding like a brass instrument, often mistaken for the stringed musicians. Where the pocket trumpet appears I have no idea. It could be in there just about anywhere.
Sen isn’t as wild or aggressive as maybe my descriptions above may suggest. It is a poised, careful disc of two concise improvisations with a fair degree of space scattered throughout. Japanese calligraphy seems to have been one of the inspirations behind the music (The tracks are named First and Second Line and the sleeve art features several characters) and the music does reflect this, jagged and sharp in places, a complex structure but with nothing unnecessary added. I liked this one quite a bit. Richard Pinnell (The Watchful Ear)

Ao trigésimo terceiro título do catálogo Creative Sources a dupla Rodrigues (Ernesto e Guilherme) junta-se ao japonês Toshihiro Koike. O trombone de Koike adiciona novas tonalidades às habituais explorações criativas da dupla de cordas (Guilherme aqui utiliza também o pocket trumpet), concretizando um espaço sonoro mais preenchido do que é habitual. As duas peças que caracterizam este Sen (“First Line” + “Second Line”) são também mais prolongadas no tempo, com cerca de vinte e três minutos cada uma – duas sessões de improvisação em que o tempo não é limitado para impedir a busca de novos sons, nem demasiado extenso para se cair em redundâncias. Nuno Catarino (Bodyspace)