The Afterlife of Trees cs471

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Biliana Voutchkova! Ernesto Rodrigues! Guilherme Rodrigues! Magda Mayas! ‎The Afterlife Of Trees … and Strings!

Czy istnieje muzyka postsmyczkowa? Czy wystarczy nam wyobra?ni, by wzbudzi? w g?owie obraz takich d?wi?ków? Mo?e ?atwiej b?dzie jednak si?gn?? po muzyk?, skoro jest ju? z nami od kilku tygodni.

Historia jest nast?puj?ca. W pa?dzierniku 2016 roku do Berlina zawita?a para przesympatycznych Portugalczyków. Ernesto Rodrigues i Guilherme Rodrigues, wyposa?eni odpowiednio w altówk? i wiolonczel?, w Studio Borne 45, napotkali par? przeuroczych berli?skich rezydentek – Bilian? Voutchkov? i Magd? Mayas. Pierwsza mia?a w r?kach skrzypce, druga posadowiona by?a u podnó?a fortepianu. Wspólnie postanowili zagra? kilka d?wi?ków. Powsta?a muzyka, któr? nazwali The Afterlife Of Trees.

Dzi?, dzi?ki wydawnictwu pierwszego z Portugalczyków, Creative Sources, mo?emy pozna? owoce ich ci??kiej pracy. Pi?? odcinków z tytu?ami, jak ni?ej, potrwa równo czterdzie?ci minut. Mamy dopiero pocz?tek marca, a ju? jest z nami muzyka, która z pewno?ci? zaw?aszczy sobie tegoroczne listy najlepszych p?yt w naszej ulubionej kategorii swobodnej improwizacji.
The Afterlife Of Trees. Wielogatunkowy szum, rodzaj napi?cia na strunach, które znamionuje ch?? wydania pierwszych d?wi?ków. Sonorystyka strun, które gotowe s? niemal na wszystko, ale na razie postanawiaj? wymownie milcze?. Wewn?trz fortepianu dziej? si? ju? pewne zdarzenia akustyczne, które mo?emy potraktowa? w kategorii wydawania d?wi?ku. Cisza, która jest groz? chwili obecnej. Pasa?e mikrodronów, które próbuj? ?apa? punkty styczne. Towarzyszy temu zatracenie ?róde? d?wi?ku, które dopada ka?dego s?uchacza tego spektaklu. To opowie??, która ma bohatera zbiorowego. Rodzaj elektroakustyki, która nie wymaga jakichkolwiek amplifikacji. W 5 minucie nisko posadowiony dron buduje zr?by narracji, pozbawionej wszak?e typowych dla tego zestawu instrumentalnego d?wi?ków. Incydentalnie na strunach pojawiaj? si? drobiny meta noise’u. W oddali pojedyncze, suche, m?oteczkowe akordy piana. Troch? wzajemnego si?owania si? na strunach. Wszystko odbywa si? w bezpo?redniej blisko?ci ciszy. Na fina? kilka epizodów akustycznych na gryfach i inside piano, które przypominaj? nam, ?e obcujemy z czterema ca?kiem ?ywymi instrumentami.

The Multiplied Self. Jakby kilka upalonych pozytywek wysz?o na d?ugooczekiwany spacer. Narracja toczy si? w oparach dronów, sprawia wra?enie jednego wielod?wi?ku, który dr??y ska??. Chwila industrialnej wr?cz zadumy – trzy strunowce dr??, rezonuj? i kalecz? si? wzajemnie. Piano przyjmuje za? rol? dosadnego komentatora. Jak?e b?yskotliwy moment na p?ycie! Magda wkleszcza si? jeszcze g??biej w swój instrument i udowadnia, i? tak?e on jest strunowcem i to na pe?nych prawach cz?onkowskich.

Suddenly Forgotten. Cisza w ciszy, nanod?wi?ki, akustyczna uroda tej ekspozycji wprost eksploduje. Ci?g dalszy dronowej symfonii. Dr?enie, rezonans, ejakulacja. Narracja ma urok i delikatno?? baletnicy na balu u ksi?cia. Dziewicy, która nie spotka?a jeszcze prawdziwego m??czyzny. Cisza Cage’owskiego 4:33, to przy tej muzyce ha?as! Skupiony s?uchacz obcuje jednak z czym? wyj?tkowym. Minimal art of noise! Silent noise! Niebywa?e chamber, które wysz?o z fiharmonii i zapomnia?o drogi powrotnej.

Elective Affinities. Ci?g dalszy b?yskotliwych wzmaga? z cisz? akustyki perfekcyjnej. Polerowanie strun, frazy urywane w ?wier? s?owa. Piano Magdy wci?? w roli genialnego strunowca, które jest ledwie dotykany ko?cami palców. Kind of chamber fire music in deep silent! Repetycja i p?tle, jako wyj?tkowo skuteczna i precyzyjna metoda twórcza. Znów, delikatne jak puch, palce Magdy czyni? mo?liwym zjawiska ca?kowicie niemo?liwe… By? mo?e, to ona jest królow? tego balu! Oczywi?cie precyzyjne wskazanie who is who w tej narracji nadal graniczy z cudem. Ponownie ostatnie d?wi?ki odcinka improwizacji budz? w naszych g?owach obraz prawdziwych instrumentów. Tak, pami?tamy: skrzypce, altówka, wiolonczela i fortepian.

Notes On Blindness. Na start call & response. By? ka?da improwizacja cho?by w u?amkowej cz??ci bazuje na tym kanonie. Szumy i szmery, rezonuj?ce przedmioty ró?ne. Inside piano, outside strings. I na odwrót. Tu mo?e zdarzy? si? wszystko. Chwila akustyki normalnej. Je?li to s?owo cokolwiek znaczy w trakcie tego spektaklu. Zej?cie na poziom prostej percepcji akustycznej wzmaga poczucie przyjemno?ci z obcowania z d?wi?kami niezwyk?ymi, jakie by?y naszym udzia?em od pocz?tku tej opowie?ci. Na fina? eksperymentalny kontrapunkt. Czy strunowiec potrafi szumie?? Retoryka pytania wybrzmiewa, podobnie jak ca?a p?yta. Bliska doskona?o?ci! Andrzej Nowak (Spontaneous Music Tribune)

 

Since I first heard of Biliana Voutchkova by her impressive and forceful solo work ‘Modes of Raw’ (2016), I’m eager to know more of her musical activity. With ‘The Afterlife of Trees’ there is a new opportunity. It has Voutchkova (violin) in the company of Ernesto Rodrigues (viola), Guilherme Rodrigues (cello) and Magda Mayas (piano). This is a release by Creative Sources, a label founded in
2001 by Ernesto Rodrigues as an outlet of his own music. The label soon became a very profilic label for improvised music that focuses on sound, texture and timbre, on silence and spatial aspects of music. Also Guilherme Rodrigues is present on many of the releases on this label, and often we meet them together. Like on this new effort that is completed by Mayas. She is a Berlin-based pianist who works with many improvisers from all over the planet. Often with Australians Tony Buck, Jim Denley and Chris Abrahams, a.o. The CD contains five improvisations that perfectly fit within the focus above mentioned, recorded by Dietrich Petzold on 22nd October 2016 at Studioboerne in Berlin. The improvisations are intense and concentrated. They move slowly forward and give time to notice and enjoy all the little movements and gestures that are created. The sound textures breath a dark atmosphere, created by acoustical means only, using some extended techniques. Improvisations are created from a very reduced set of parameters, by improvisers who know to tell intriguing stories within these limitations, Dolf Mulder (Vital Weekly)

After fifteen-years-plus writing about music — nine of those for Squid's Ear — I am sometimes stumped while trying to say something other than "this is good" with even the best work; really, it's easier to review something...less than stellar, as I know many more negative synonyms than positive. There are times where I think I've heard just about everything and the best version of everything, and that really bums me out.
When the jaded me reads "prepared piano," I mentally shudder and anticipate a "put some screws and rubber balls in there" pedantic, blasé approach that many incorporate into their keyboard work. But then I hear someone such as Magda Mayas who isn't merely extending what a piano (and clavinet / pianet) is capable of, but, even without electronic manipulation, transforming it into a new instrument with unexpected sonic possibilities. Along with a few others (i.e. Olivia Block), I would put her in the "Best Version of Prepared Piano." Anyway.
The opener of The Afterlife of Trees commences with a nervous clamor of wooden raps and seeming hand cranks with a gently oozing flow of high frequency slides, whirrs and shimmering harmonics hovering above courtesy of violinist Biliana Voutchkova (violin), Guilherme Rodrigues (cello) and Ernesto Rodrigues (viola); the visual inspired by the work is that of spirits slowly waking and released from a sarcophagus. The soundboard tapping and squeaky finger rubs continue as (Guilherme) Rodrigues mires the piece in a temperate drone. Over the course of the next twelve minutes, the quartet focuses more on reach than arrival. The members revel in the aforementioned gestures, largely eschewing pitch material in favor of raspy bowing, muted key thumps and clangs — and a claustrophobic dependence on one another's participation in the pending storm.
The motif of "The Multiplied Self" could be simply put as "rattling." Mayas snaps objects that wiggle, wobble and, uh, rattle (think door stop springs) to create brief resonant metallic swaths. The string trio answers with variances of rich and full to spidery and stunted to lilting to somber, like flickering appendages discharging pinches, plucks, trills, vibrato expressive, and glissandi.
Though mostly performing in a placid fashion, the group does band together into a series of enormous Minimalist / Spectral gusts on "Suddenly Forgotten." Starting with pointillistic blips and strums, the players lean into rugged, gnarled grinding and haphazard harmonics to create an unresolved tension.
This music charges me with optimism that there is still something interesting to be had in various experimental genres. Though not a wholly unique aesthetic, Voutchkova, Rodrigues, Rodrigues, and Mayas commit to intriguing explorations of their instruments to present inventive sound art. The Afterlife of Trees is a reason why I still write. Dave Madden (The Squid’s Ear)

One of the "selection bias" issues that concerns me in this space is my treatment of labels (or other units, for that matter) that issue albums only occasionally versus those that release dozens a year: I have a tendency to pay attention to the single release, while neglecting e.g. album nineteen of twenty. This is normal, I suppose, and I've already noted the most obvious corrective: Concentrate more on the big labels (& so performers) I know & appreciate, rather than seek random one-offs. Yet such an approach never seems quite right: For one thing, the sense of "discovery" is displaced to someone else (i.e. the label editor whose judgment I've already embraced), "jealousy" of which could be taken as merely a point of vanity, except that discovery does remain a service, and discovering the already discovered is largely worthless — at least beyond my own enjoyment. (One could observe that the latter is the only possible situation here anyway, but there are still matters of degree.) Another issue concerns the fact that large, unknown outputs are intimidating: Where does one start? I've noted this issue with respect to individual musicians' discographies as well. Finally, does attempting e.g. to choose a "favorite" among ten similar albums really make sense? From the perspective of a reader who might not want to allocate so many resources, it probably does, but conceptually, particularly in parallel with choices made in different contexts, such a choice suggests an artificial outcome. Whereas these issues can be theoretical, and that's often the format within which I obsess over them, they can also be quite practical, and perhaps nowhere more powerfully so than in the dual example of Creative Sources as a label & Ernesto Rodrigues as a musician. Even as I continue to follow Rodrigues' work more closely, there are still dozens (if not hundreds) of albums I've never heard, and the same goes for the label: Does the fact that I'm paying more attention now mean that the earlier releases are of lesser value? Obviously there's no basis for that conclusion, other than (perhaps) my own orientation toward the most contemporary production. (I like to believe that individual musicians do develop their ideas, but such development is not necessarily linear, as various examples could illustrate.) Moreover, as e.g. noted last week around Alexander Frangenheim's output, these albums aren't always released in the (chronological) order in which they were performed & recorded either. For instance, today's album of interest, The Afterlife of Trees — recorded in Berlin in October 2016, i.e. the same month as Traintracks Roadsides Wastelands Debris — dates from about half a year after Underwater Music (as recently noted again around Frangenheim), but prior to e.g. Xenon (discussed here in May) & the Lisbon String Trio series. So where does it fit into Rodrigues' recent work with mostly-string ensembles? Well, it's generally less polyphonic than those other examples, with a sometimes ethereal feel that can suggest distance or a landscape. Of course, that distance might be implied by the "afterlife" concept itself, and one is indeed reminded not only that trees do have a concrete afterlife (as summarized by e.g. the term "wood"), but that it's an aspect of these musical instruments. (Moreover, although The Afterlife of Trees has little in the way of overt human evocations, such a tangible "afterlife" applies to human remains as well: Sometimes they're called relics.) While Ernesto Rodrigues records with some of the same cellists (especially) & bassists again & again, the violinists with whom he's recently collaborated vary: On The Afterlife of Trees the violinist is Bulgarian-born & (at least partially) US-educated Biliana Voutchkova, who had appeared on the 2015 Creative Sources release 77 Kids (with Rodrigues & horn player Micha Rabuske), and more recently on As Found with Michael Thieke & Roy Carroll ("electro-acoustic media") on Sound Anatomy (the label formed by Richard Scott, recently noted here for his wonderful participation on Trialectics). Joining Rodrigues & Voutchkova in the quartet are Guilherme Rodrigues & Magda Mayas — the latter having appeared on at least three prior Creative Sources albums, including Flock by Great Waitress, concerning which she was first mentioned in this space in May 2014. Most of the productions already named originated in Berlin, suggesting another (location-based) variant on the high-volume versus low-volume "selection" dilemma with which I opened, and farther afield in the Berlin scene (if one can evoke such an image for a locality), Nashaz (another album with Thieke, by the way) might be the "most" (pace my selections) similar release to The Afterlife of Trees in its sonics & evocations — although as the considerably different titles suggest, not all that similar. There is a sort of moderately paced, open & "airy" quality in common, however, sometimes calmly rattling along (almost like being on a ferry — here, of the dead?), as well as a density, although regarding the perceived airiness, The Afterlife of Trees doesn't involve a wind instrument: It's unclear what generates such sounds, whether it's viola harmonics, rubbed piano strings, etc. Another obvious recent comparison is Chant for its bowed strings with tuned percussion combination, there including bass to form a quintet (versus the quartet here), and recorded in Lisbon rather than Berlin. Chant is not only generally (highly) contrapuntal, but invokes (neo-Romantic) tonality at times as well, and so usually has a denser sound, whereas The Afterlife of Trees is not generally as (sonically) rich, i.e. has a more singular sense of flow while remaining timbre-based & atonal (non-motivic), perhaps even "minimalist" at times. As suggested, the latter often involves blurring lines between instruments in a collective sound, such that even piano & violin (surely the two poles of the quartet) cannot always be distinguished (in sharp stylistic contrast with e.g. Trialectics). Further, The Afterlife of Trees seems to make a more intense intervention into concepts of naturalism (whereas Chant uses nature as a straightforward pole against abstraction) via the danger & mystery of the afterlife notion itself: It can be both quiet & intense, yet suggests hearing at a distance (and so evokes ocularcentrism for me — despite what might be figured as intimacy — perhaps only intensified by the final track naming blindness). There's also a bit of a "traveling ethos" (particularly on track three) per Traintracks..., but the latter comes off as both more forceful & more mechanical. Some passages of The Afterlife of Trees do have a contrapuntal feel, particularly around percussive sounds (presumably arising from the piano as well as from striking the string instrument bodies), and its sometimes flute-y harmonics (evidently) arise from & so combine all the instruments, sometimes as set against a humming or croaking (organ-like?) bass (rather, bowed cello). Scelsian scraping "mutes" can also be heard (apparently, e.g. on track two) as part of a terrain ultimately formed by noisy & shifting resonances, and within which a few clearly tinkling notes on piano can stand in partial contrast to the generally amorphous sound. (So individual personalities do not emerge from the instruments in this style, but rather something of a post- or inhuman scene.) Does the stark, shimmering, "windswept" sense of landscape really differ in quality from some of the "soundscapes" I had dismissed in previous years? I'm not sure, but I am sure that with The Afterlife of Trees, the way that I personally hear Rodrigues, Creative Sources & the Berlin scene does continue to evolve. What's next for a group such as this? Probably going their separate ways, at least until some other recombination.... (As this discussion hopefully suggested, these relations crisscross from a variety of directions & at a variety of times.) 12 December 2017. Todd McComb's Jazz Thoughts

This chamber quartet features four classically-trained free-improvisers - Portuguese viola player Ernesto Rodrigues (head of the Creative Sources label), fellow-Portuguese, Berlin-based cellist Guilherme Rodrigues, and fellow-Berliners violinist Voutchkova and pianist Magda Mayas, known from the duo Spill with The Necks’ drummer Tony Buck, and the trio Great Waitress. The quartet album was recorded at Studioboerne 45, Berlin in October 2016.

These four improvisers form a left-of-center string quartet, as all apply extended bowing techniques and Mayas employs preparations and objects on the piano strings and only briefly plays the piano keys. The music sounds at first patient and emphatic. The quartet develops slowly the title-piece as a quiet, dreamy drone where all the conventional string instruments and the prepared piano blend into a close, almost tangible sonic entity, and all together often sound as a low-frequency electric hum. Slowly, more nuanced, fleeting colors and distant percussive noises are added to this minimalist, dark texture. The following pieces are shorter and offer more intense and urgent textures, still comprised by minimalist gestures but manage to suggest detailed, mysterious atmospheres. “Elective Affinities” even introduce exotic, Eastern ideas with very few ritualistic, percussive sounds. Eyal Hareuveni (The Free Jazz Collective)