ALFREDO COSTA MONTEIRO / MIGUEL A. GARCIAAq'Ab'Al
The second appearance of Alfredo Costa Monteiro after critically acclaimed Contour with Keith Rowe, Kurt Liedwart and Ilia Belorukov, and the first physical release of Miguel A. Garcia after Uropygi with Kurt Liedwart, Ilia Belorukov and Dmitry Krotevich on Mikroton Digital.
The album is titled after “Aq’ab’al”, the Mayan Astrology Sign about polar opposites — dawn and dusk, hot and cold, black and white which represents renewal, change, the end of boredom or new beginnings. The album takes off into the territory of spectral modulation of an array of sound waves and intrusions of abrupt shifts in the flow. A forceful energy that seems to be constrained, captured into a muffled atmosphere. Ebbs and flows of the circulation of sound waves, mixed with ferocious textural feedbacks configurate a kind of a primary vibration, combined with high pitch chord sounds seem to draw a kind of strange observance. The music is always in constant movement, avoiding stops and giving no respite in its search for new beginnings.
PHYSICAL | CD
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1. No'j2. Und3. Toj4. Sappnicran
CATALOG: mikroton cd 57FORMAT: CDEDITION: 300RELEASE: March 2017
Alfredo Costa Monteiro electronicsMiguel A. Garcia electronics
“The music is always in constant movement, avoiding stops and giving no respite in its search for new beginnings”. Thus spoke the album’s press release. What intrigues is the “new beginnings” snippet, for Aq’ab’al – the Mayan equivalent of “yin and yang”, in a way – presents ceaseless cascades of sounds so fiercely disruptive that hypothesizing anything but a “ground zero” stage following the acoustic onslaught is rather difficult.
Alternatively, if we want to scrutinize this record from another point of observation, the ideal definition would be something like “brutally honest”. Costa Monteiro and García are not fond of preliminaries, immediately launching their equipment into the “full blast” furnace where everything remotely affiliated with the rational rendering of an unruly force dissolves in the lava of non-significance. However, you know what I mean with the latter expression: the monolithic mass of ill-shapen pitches, irregular waveforms and piercing partials IS the essence, and it does not need to be translated. One either gets it, or doesn’t. In other words: better be ready, or else the brain is going to get mercilessly slammed around (which, in certain human specimens, could even produce an unforeseen betterment. That’s a different story, though).
Finally, these four tracks will cut the throat of false serenity with ease. This is one of those instances where creative intransigence must be assisted by the listener’s determination to go on in spite of a lack of average aesthetic references. A nerve-consuming experience is often remembered as formative after the elapsing of some time; accordingly, a conscious sinking in this blistering quagmire might work wonders for someone still convinced that the so-called universal harmony rhymes with “consonance”. As an illustrious precursor used to say, it ain’t necessarily so.
MIGUEL A. GARCIA again. Aq'Ab'Al (mikroton cd 57) zeigt den Basken, einmal mehr, mit seinem portugiesischen Gesinnungsgenossen ALFREDO COSTA MONTEIRO. Und jagt mit ihm alle mikrotonale Zurückhaltung zum Teufel. Dabei ist Monteiro, allein oder mit Blaast, Cremaster oder 300 Basses, schon auch über Creative Sources, Monotype, Another Timbre, Potlatch, Rhizome.s oder Confront total eingebunden in den 'Club'. Das hier ist aber ein Fall für den Katastrophenschutz. Gefordert, aber letztlich völlig überfordert durch die 'erschütternde Gewalt des Tones', die donnernde, bebende, alle Fundamente entfugende Erscheinung donnergöttlicher Macht und Pracht. Wummernd, schillernd, brausend, reißend quetzalcoatlt und pauahtunt dieser spektrale Elektronoise in seinem apokalyptischen Schlangenkleid. So oder so ähnlich klingt es wohl, wenn unter dem Vorzeichen Aq'Ab'Al, dem Nahual mit den zwei Gesichtern, nämlich dem Gesicht der Dämmerung (unter dessen Uhu-Zeichen dreizehn Tage der dreizehn Monate des Tzolkin-Kalenders stehen), No'j', die rechte Hemisphäre, bei Sonnenaufgang und 'Toj', die linke, bei Sonnenuntergang zerstört/erneuert werden.
Betont antikulinarische Elektronikentwürfe gehören indes ebenso ganz selbstverständlich zum Œuvre der Mikroton-Veröffentlichungspolitik. Einigen davon ist etwas dermaßen Harsches, Berserkerhaftes eigen, dass man damit nicht freiwillig die Gehörgänge möblieren möchte: Bemerkenswert ist es trotzdem, sowohl instants // paris von mkm (Günter Müller, ipod, e; Jason Kahn, synth, radio, mixer; Norbert Möslang, e), 2012 im, wie der Titel schon sagt, Instant Chavirés von Paris-Montreuil aufgenommen; und die CD mit dem kryptischen Titel aq ab al von Monteiro/Garcia (Alfredo Costa Monteiro, Miguel A. Garcia, e). Zwei Horte der Dystopie, Elektronik zum Fürchten, kampfeslustig, intensiv, massiv.
Recently I bumped, by accident it seemed, into Miguel A. Garcia, crossing paths in a city far, far away and it was good to see, finally, his modus operandi, even perhaps for that night/tour only. A set-up that consists of computer-controlled feedback and some extra electronics that worked very well in his duo with Sebastien Branche (on saxophone). Here Garcia also gets credit for electronics, just as Alfredo Costa Monteiro. It doesn't mention if this is a live recording or perhaps some studio meeting and to what extend there is an editing or layering of the music. Somehow I don't think the latter is the case, and that all of this is a pretty straightforward set of recordings of some pretty intense music. I would believe that this works very much along the lines of processing internally looped sources together into some very strong, forceful music; feedback maybe, acoustic sounds maybe? I must admit I have very little idea as to what is going on here. If this is improvised then these two men have mighty control over their apparatus to play these sounds. This is nothing for the weak of hearth, I would think. The advise 'play loud' is usually not very well-spend on me, but in this case I am sure it is the only you should do. Just like last week's release by Cilantro on the same label this is something one would not expect but it sure is damn fine release.
This is the first published collaboration between these two experimental improvisers. In it, some familiar stalwart sounds of dark experimental ambient music including drones, industrial noises, feedback, white noises (and other flavours I think), analogue modulations and glitches wash and wave, sometimes fairly slowly, sometimes abruptly, as you’re taken into an alien environment that’s complex, immersive yet largely unwelcoming.
Though packaged as 4 tracks, each around 10 minutes long, it’s a relentless work with little distinction between the sections. Things do mellow out briefly towards the end of second piece “Und”, but it’s a temporary reprieve. The hollow tones at the beginning of “Toj” have a slightly more horror movie flavour for a while, while parts of “Sappnicran” feel like they’ve been pumped through a plastic tube.
It’s abrasive but over time it gradually becomes quite compelling, with a sort of sonic scouring effect. Particularly on headphones it’s somewhat cathartic. It doesn’t peddle anything particularly new or distinctive, but as a well-wrapped dose of experimental noise it develops its own sense of function.
THE SOUND PROJECTOR, ED PINSENT:
A couple of TSP faves on Aq’ Ab’ Al (MIKROTON CD 57) – Alfredo Costa Monteiro and Miguel A. Garcíateam up to rub their respective noisy snouts together on four new tracks of grinding, intensive, semi-mechanical drone. Apparently the term Aq’ab’al comes to us from the Mayan calendar, and has powerful connotations of renewal – a sunrise, a new day dawning, the discovery of fresh reserves of energy, and like that. It’s also possible to associate the sign with “polar opposites”, a concept which our duo might be attempting to express with the constant tension that’s going on in this work, each blistering moment of electronic abrasiveness fighting for attention and seeking to claim the upper hand. I doubt if Monteiro and García behave like this in real life, otherwise they’d be too busy arm-wrestling and getting into bar-brawls to make any music, but it’s probably far healthier to slug it out in the confines of the studio than to cause trouble in a public space. The press notes here speak of “a forceful energy that seems to be constrained, captured into a muffled atmosphere”, which is certainly a notable trait of this music which often seems to be seething with barely-concealed anger and hate. While these tracks may not appear especially violent or forceful in their opening moments, just keep listening, and you’ll soon be drawn into the maelstrom of emotions, feeling each effusion like a steely knife lacerating your hide, in slow motion. The deeper you go, the more alarming it gets. From 19th April 2017.
Intrigued by the title, I discovered that aq'ab'al refers to a Mayan calendar symbol for dawn and dusk, or for polar opposites generally. I'm not sure how opposite they are, but Costa Monteiro and Garcia are two of the most uncompromising spirits on the current improvising scene and any collaboration between them was going to be worth hearing (there's another recent recording, 'Ate Gena' on the Geräuschmanufaktur label that I've not heard).
It's pretty ferocious. From the first second, the pair (each simply credited with "electronics") launch into extreme slabs of thick, viscous noise, layer upon layer, screaming, metallic shards melting over subsonic bass bellows and much between. It's almost as if they recorded some immense grinding mechanism, feeding into it jagged remnants of metal, letting the stretching and crushing resonate through the body of the device and recorded that too, feedbacking it into its maw, over and over, building the noise. There's somethingvaguely cyclic about parts of the four pieces, a pulse or rhythm that emerges briefly, disappears, is replaced by another, something that hints at a machine nature although, given the provenance of the title, I sometimes think of those massive, carved-stone Mayan calendar wheels, grinding inexorably. It's difficult to describe this maelstrom otherwise. There have been thousands of noise records over the years, many of equal volume and ferocity, but few that I've heard with the pure, unrelenting tensile strength and density of this one. It's molten, blessedly unforgiving.
Deuxième galette après Ate Gena (chez Geraüschmanufaktur) pour le duo d’électronique plutôt noisy entre l’Espagnol Miguel A. Garcia, qui se fait appeler Xedh sous d’autres cieux, et le Portugais Alfredo Costa Monteiro, qui réside à Barcelone et a plus d’une corde à son arc, travaillant par ailleurs le papier froissé, la poésie sonore, l’orgue, et j’en oublie, et ici l’électronique, avec un allant qui l’honore. Ça ne s’encombre pas de préliminaires, on est tout de suite dans le vif du sujet et le gros son, bien que le discours ne soit jamais confus, car c’est bien un duo qu’on entend. Les lignes, immédiatement jointes, peuvent se croiser, se superposer, mais jamais elles ne se confondent. Elles explorent l’entièreté de l’ambitus, du vrombissement jusqu’à la stridence. Chacune des quatre pièces, dont certaines sont plus statiques que d’autres, réussit à se rendre intéressante par les petites différences de textures ou d’agencement qui viennent nuancer cette musique machinique, industrielle, moins brute de fonderie qu’elle n’en donne l’air. Mais c’est quand le duo s’emballe en un genre de fuite progressive et éperdue qu’il convainc le plus. Aq’Ab’Al est le lever du soleil dans le calendrier maya.