Aleph cs351









It was, I believe, 2003 when my fraternization with Creative Sources began, and with it the experience of previously unheard-of combinations of ineffable sonorities and unique talents in disparate improvisational milieus. Cellist and composer Guilherme Rodrigues — the son of label honcho Ernesto — was 15 at that time, this writer well remembering his smiles of gladness in front of such a young kid fully immersed in unusual environments, yet expressing his voice like a veteran. Quite often the early albums from the Portuguese imprint featured ensembles that, exactly as this quartet, were proposing valuable methods to snatch compelling sounds from the jaws of silence. That silence was not just a superficial symbol hiding pretentious attitudes: the air was truly pregnant of peculiar signals to be captured, understood and re-synthesized into new forms of knowledge.

Fourteen years later the question is: am I really willing to keep listening to this type of material? Can expert listeners find elements of interest in contingencies and junctions that have been heard thousands of times by now? It might be too easy to answer with a firm "no", and ultimately it would be a huge error. In fact, Aleph — in absence of groundbreaking intuitions — still represents a valid alternative to the blasé listlessness that has become a trademark in many and one post-Cage/pseudo-zen contexts. It manages to transmit an appreciable degree of liveliness in a place where undertones, murmurs, shrilling frequencies and out-and-out noises coexist without excessive problems.

The two live tracks, lasting 34 and 7 minutes respectively, show a stark contrast between the "mortal" instruments (Rodrigues' cello and Gris' cornet) and the cochlea-pricking emissions of sinewaves (Area) and synthesizer (Torres). While segments exist where a modicum of tentativeness momentarily succeeds in dismantling the walls of acoustic cohesion, luckily the bulk of this disc comprises attractive structural fragments and resonating constituents capable of awakening the inner ear's responsiveness. The strictly timbral traits and the general temperament may vary — from wheezing to excruciatingly throbbing, with remnants of concrete objectivity scattered around — but the collective spirit animating the interplay doesn't. It's called honesty, and you can still perceive its presence here. But only after having delivered the mind from the excesses of critical analysis. Massimo Ricci (The Squid's Ear)

Aleph, recorded live in Madrid in December 2015, might be the debut leader album for Guilherme Rodrigues (cello), who is joined by David Area (sines, cracklebox, bottle), Guillermo Torres (synth) & Tomás Gris (cornet, objects). The album consists of a long improvised track, followed by a shorter one that almost seems like an encore — not so unlike Live at the Metz' Arsenal by the MMM Quartet. Indeed, the ensembles might be taken to be vaguely similar, even as Aleph is an album less dense with ideas, marking perhaps tentative relations more so than the studied multiplicity of the former. The album notes thank Wade Matthews, and one might also compare it to Primary Envelopment, likewise for its attempt to reshape perceptions (albeit with less sharpness to the high pitches). On Aleph, the different sounds are articulated through significant differences, such that they stay rather separate, suggesting what I've called a "less dense" ecology. I think there is more to be developed here, more to grow one might say, and I also assume that the entire quartet is rather young, so development of their group ecology does seem likely. It's already a worthwhile debut, particularly if one reframes my remarks as the music displaying an overall sense of balance & restraint (& even gravity) within an adventurous sonic idiom. 24 May 2016. Todd McComb's Jazz Thoughts