I’m a taker for anything with the Rodrigues’ (father and son) names on it. Their synergy in improvisation is staggering, the textures they weave with their viola and cello, as minimalistic as they may be, are bewitching. This is not their first collaboration with electornician Carlos Santos, who knows how to make himself discreet in their presence. Add in saxman Martin Küchen who, in the context of this quiet, meticulous music embodies an unusual form of lyricism, and you have another memorable CD from the core of the Creative Sources label. A label of which it has been said several times that it releases too much music, but how can one complain about that when, regularly, it drops a cutting-edge improvisation gem like this one in your lap? François Couture (Monsieur Délire)
Tonight I listened to another Creative Sources disc though, one of the most anticipated from the new batch this time, a quartet recording by Ernesto and Guilherme Rodrigues (cello and violin respectively) alongside Carlos Santos’ electronics and on this occasion Martin Küchen’s saxophone. Regular readers will know I am a big fan of Küchen’s music, or at least the one side of it I know well, he also plays a lot of free jazz. His new trio release with Seymour Wright and Keith Rowe is another great one I’ve been playing a lot and really must write about soon. How he would work alongside the familiar sound of Rodrigues senior and junior was interesting to me. Opening up the CD sleeve as I first played this disc a week or two back I also discovered the brief but thoroughly interesting liner notes were written by none other than Brian Olewnick, which only added to my interest in the music contained on the disc. So what’s it like? Hmm, a difficult one to describe really. On a basic level Vinter (as the album is titled) features good modern improvised music, not too loud, fast or talkative, but also not in any way minimal. Most of the sounds at least seem acoustic, but of course Carlos Santos electronics can’t be, though they slip between the bowing and wheezing sax almost without being noticed. The music has a feeling of gentle undulation to it, a kind of constant rise and fall throughout that make sit sound alive, slowly inhaling and exhaling. While there is no firmly fixed structure the need for Küchen to breathe in and out, and the need for the bow to be drawn back and forth across strings gives the music a slowly swaying sensation as if it is slowly contracting and expanding. The playing falls somewhere between the laminal approach of AMM and a more immediately expressive way of playing. None of the three tracks here come anywhere close to a drone form, and yet much of the beauty in this music comes from the way the sounds are layered on top of one another, the dual richness of the bowed strings combining with the buzz and fizz of the electronics and the purr and groan of the sax. The musicians are constantly responding to one another, continually changing their contributions, never allowing the music to rest on its laurels, but often allowing the sounds to just be themselves, placed in position with the pleasure coming from how they sound when placed in close proximity to one another. Listening here reminds me of staring down into a stagnant pond, watching the various layers of pondlife (excuse the analogy please!) to move en mass over each other, the colours and tiny details amplified and altered by what sits above and below them. Traditionally, the cello, violin, sax and electronics all “belong” to different areas of music making. Brought together here though, with all thought of egocentric soloing or maestro-esque performing removed from the equation they work really well together. This music certainly has a feeling of the communitarian about it, all sides gently nudging each other but generally contributing for the good of the whole rather than trying to stand out. The music has a feeling of multiple backgrounds juxtaposed over one another rather than any one or more musicians sitting in the foreground in front of others. Vinter is a release that will doubtlessly get lost in the crowd, partly because it has appeared on Creative Sources amidst one of their usual flurries of activity, but partly also because there is nothing startling about this CD, it is a good strong recording of some great improvisers playing together but that isn’t enough in this day and age for it to be mentioned in that many dispatches. This is a shame, as I have thoroughly enjoyed playing this one over recent days, and while it might not rewrite the rulebooks it certainly has a characteristic of its own, a breathing, bellows-like sensation that stops the music from settling, keeping it sounding alive and thriving as it plays in the room alongside me now. Excellent stuff then. Brian isn’t always right, but he is on this occasion! Richard Pinnell (The Watchful Ear)
Le souffle, répété, qui traverse le saxophone alto de Martin Küchen pousse quelques notes hors de l’instrument. Dans un bruit de métal, Küchen fabrique ses plaintes d’opposition aux longues lignes sorties d’un duo d’archets – association d’Ernesto (violon) et Guilherme Rodrigues (violoncelle) – jusqu’à ce qu’un grave se répande pour donner à l’ensemble expérimental des airs de berceuse. Des airs que parasites et frottements chercheront à déstabiliser, eux qui rêveraient d’une ambient hérétique qui interdirait toute récupération ou tentative d’assimilation, musicales toutes deux.
Or, la berceuse tient ici par le jeu d’une ossature de clefs-satellites et de structures électroniques du discret et cubiste Carlos Santos et là par le soutien affirmé de l’archet de violoncelle d’un père rassurant (Guilherme). A force de cohésions, c’est une autre musique d’atmosphère que l’on traîne à terre pour que ne lui échappe pas un centimètre carré de surface ni, une fois recraché par le disque à mille lieux d’où elle est née, un centimètre cube d'espace environnant. Guillaume Belhomme (Le Son du Grisli)
I always wonder
what should I do with yet another cd from such prominent artists as the
ones that appear on this cd? Should I give it a shallow praise just because
of their status or merely to the extent of their possibilities as musicians.
A crepuscular cooperative of alto sax, viola, cello and electronics with some concession to throaty droning and a clear tendency to unveil buried aspects of the instrumental combination to turn them into relevant traits. In “Mörkertid” a preliminary static exposition is subsequently splintered in parallel singularities, each instrument gently wheezing and rasping until the piece’s natural demise. “Kyla” is intermittently characterized by a chugging pulse over which the other voices try and find a place to exist without being noticed. This includes unpolished upper partials, barely hinted sibilance, pitches that oscillate between full tone and dispirited sighing. These sounds are nothing previously unheard of, but an optimal integration makes them appear more beautiful than they really are. The segment’s overall yield is a valuable one, especially when the quartet starts moaning and groaning around the thirteenth minute. The lengthy “Barmark” is definitely the most difficult track to translate, informed as it is by cyclical shrieking highs and “classic” tampering with strings and bridge in several of its parts. Accordingly, this is also the least involving chapter in terms of sheer timbral attractiveness; except for a couple of concentrated surges and a handful of captivating buzzes, it’s not excessively momentous in the economy of an album that nevertheless remains a valid alternative to futile silence. Massimo Ricci (Touching Extremes)
When a cd is out on Creative Sources and it involves the Rodrigues you mostly know how it sounds like I don't wonna say it's predictable, in someway that can be true, but they have a distinct sound nobody can deny that. Even if the presence of Martin Kuchen and Carlos Santos adds a saxophone and electronics to the strings of the two portuguese players, the opening track would confirm the idea of predictability but never judge a book by the cover bros!. It's with the second track they throw in what sounds like the body of a melody, thumbs up for me since the cocktail goes really close to many contemporary electronic composition: sharp digital computer sounds, mute saxophone playing and just some odd bowed squeaks. The closing and longest composition of the whole lot sounds much more like many other works in which I've heard these players: unplayed dissonant notes, long pauses and similar tricks. The last track offers a classic contemporary sound, above all when they leave unplayed unsounding jamming for crippled or laud playing, a strange interaction, but still really good. Andrea Ferraris (Chain DLK)
This is by far the best album in the series here reviewed, with Martin Küchen on alto saxophone; Guilherme Rodrigues on cello, Ernesto Rodrigues on viola, and Carlos Santos on electronics.
With minimal means, the quartet of Martin Küchen, Ernesto Rodriques, Guilherme Rodrigues, and Carlos Santos on alto sax, viola, cello and electronics, respectively, creates a listening experience of symphonic proportions. While Küchen is a Swedish musician, the others are Portuguese, Ernesto Rodrigues being the founder of the prolific Creative Sources Recordings, a label devoted to improvised music. Cellist Guilherme Rodrigues is his son, and electronics wizard Santos, is also, like the senior Rodrigues, a visual artist.
Three sections, or movements, make up Vinter. It begins with "Mörkertid," a slowly evolving 5 minutes of subtle tones and textures, during which each of the instruments blends uncannily with the others so that it becomes nearly impossible at times to discern who's doing what, but a new kind of sound evolves in the process.
A more defined role is given each player in "Kyla," the second movement, as Santos' electronics provide a rhythmic Doppler ostinato, while violist Ernesto Rodrigues' searing, cicada-like line dances with Guilherme Rodrigues' at times growling cello. The breathy long tones of Küchen's alto followed by some plaintiff melodic cells make this a very haunting core to the work. The sounds in this section include such poignant textures as raspings and swelling screeches from the strings, with contrasting lines of more suave bowing and a long undertow of electronic intensity building throughout. The abstractness of this section is highly creative in the variety of sounds and textures.
"Barmark, " at 27 minutes the longest of the sections of this suite, gets into even more depth in sound exploration and range of expressiveness, while keeping a thread via the kind of eerie, spare mood of the whole album which, judging by its title, aims to communicate the feeling and experience of that bleak season, and manages to do so in a beautiful way. Paul Serralheiro (The Squid's Ear)
Incredible and telepathic ea-oriented improv from violist Ernesto Rodrigues, saxophonist Martin Kuchen, cellist Guilherme Rodrigues, and electronicist Carlos Santos. (Squidco)
Finally, "Vinter", recorded also at TCHA3 actually earlier in May 2007, but released in 2010. Here the family is matched with two absolute ingenious musicians: Martin Küchen on alto, and Carlos Santos, the local electronics wizard. The end effect is breathtaking. The super-quartet plays three track, starting with a 6 minutes long "Mörkertid", a kind of warm-up. 14 minutes long "Kyla" is simply amazing: The symbiosis between Martin creating various effects using saxophone keys and simply blowing with the strings and electronics background is incredible. The piece is peaceful, yet extremely emotional and expressive. But, the absolute highlight is "Barmark", a 28 minutes long voyage through the land of free minimal music married to Scandinavian free improvisation. Maciej Lewenstein