surfaces | cs307









Surfaces is a quintet album featuring regular Rodrigues collaborators Guilherme Rodrigues on cello, Nuno Torres on alto (also paired with Rodrigues in the Lisbon half of the quartet on Nor), Eduardo Chagas on trombone (also on Cloud Voices, which includes the previously unknown to me João Madeira on bass), and Carlos Santos on computer & synth (who does Creative Sources's recent graphic design): So it's a quintet of players rather close to the elder Rodrigues, and was recorded a mere six days after Cloud Voices, also in Lisbon in March. Surfaces — whose title I don't really understand, given the sound production from volumes & (one-d) strings — projects something of a similar sound world, but here it really pushes forward, rather than evoking the fragility of a cloud. The momentum can be slow & subtle, perhaps largely from the electronics, but inexorable, and becomes both the strength & weakness of the album (at least within its context). The liner notes explicitly invoke the "writerly" text, and there's a kind of Scelsian continuity, perhaps suggesting political emergence: The focus here is on emergence, then, rather than the disavowal of Nor. For all of its sporadic echoing, it comes off as ultimately irresistible. Todd McComb (Todd McComb's Jazz Thoughts)

The parallelism between the music of Ernesto Rodrigues and the idea of fruition of a literary text that Roland Barthes in his essay "Le Plaisir du Texte" that music writer Rui Eduardo Paes made in the introductory words attached to this release is useful to render the way I could recommend to perceive more details in improv music in general. The French essayist refers to "plaisir" ('pleasure') to describe a somehow passive approach to a text and 'jouissance' (translated as 'bliss' by Rui) to describe a more immersive approach, requiring "an active effort, almost if you're writing (or re-writing) what you read". Similarly, according to Rui analysis, this kind of distinction could be applied to the way of approaching Rodrigues' music: "you have to stop all other activities and immerse yourself in those sounds to obtain the maximal results from it. You'll need to give yourself away and to focus in order to perceive it all. this is not music for entertainment or to give you an atmosphere for rest and for conversation. You have to be there, right in the middle, like you're one of the musicians, sweating with them". Hot temperatures of these days over countries around Mediterranean sea could help you in sweating, but your individuality can let you appreciate the three part of this session, recorded on 14th March 2015 at Scratch Built Studio in Lisbon. The almost sinister textures of a whispering cello, a blow over the alto saxophone and the trombone which sound like emulating the blowing of the wind in a desert place, a subtly piercing computer generated thin frequency and a sort of buzzing noise supposedly generated through an analog synth over the 17 minutes of the first part matches the feeling of dizzy detachment and spleening lividity evoked by the artwork (a sort of view on a desolate secluded place through the diaphragm of a mosquito net, that pixelate the sight to emphasize that perception). The sizzling noise over the alternation of sparse and strangled tones and the rising hypnotic anxiety evoked by their muffled chorus in the second part seems to get extinguished by a likewise hypnotical analog whisper in its last minutes, while the way by which tones got combined in the third and last part could be matched to the gradual and somehow confused awakening after a troubled sleep. The ensemble is maybe not totally new, as the involved musicians (Ernesto Rodrigues, viola; Guilherme Rodrigues, cello; Nuno Torres, alto saxophone; Eduardo Chagas, trombone; Carlos Santos, computer, analogue synthesiser) already performed together in other improv sessions and got recorded in past releases of Rodrigues' imprint. In other words, they know each other quite well and such a mutual understanding cannot but enhance their performative chemistry. Vito Camarretta (Chain DLK)