CHESTERFIELD: ANGÉLICA CASTELLÓ x BURKHARD STANGLConsuelo
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The “score” or inspiration for this CD was a solo concert of Burkhard Stangl at the Reheat festival at Kleylehof in 2014. The theme of the performance was the song Bésame Mucho by the Mexican composer Consuelo Velázquez.
Chesterfield then took the recording and recomposed it, and composed new pieces mixing everything with old and new recordings, home recordings, accidental recordings, live performances ... all Chesterfield from 2013 till now ... a Chesterfield diary of songs, of noise, of longing and dreaming.
“When I wrote the song in 1941, I had never kissed anyone; it was all a product of my imagination,” the Mexican composer of Bésame mucho, Consuelo Velázquez, commented on the making of her ballad. With her musical kissing fantasies Velázquez electrified those pathways of desire and longing that – even though impossible – take us back to the paradise of the first kiss; and she inspired hundreds if not thousands of interpretations of her song. To understand the phenomenon of Bésame mucho properly, if at all, it helps to see things through the eyes of Joseph Conrad, who thought of kisses as being what is left from the language of Paradise.
Chesterfield is Angélica Castelló (paetzold, recorders, tapes, electronics, cello, viola) and Burkhard Stangl (guitars, piano). This is a gem, my favorite of the bunch. As implied by the title, the pair cast a Spanish tinge over the proceedings, seven tracks that meld tapes, allusions to song forms, field recordings, flutes, guitars and much else with a great combination of delicacy and precision. That balance between song and soundscape incorporates a certain amount of nostalgic referents but they never feel forced or placed as an easy handhold for the listener; they always ring true. You hear the instrumental contributions of both Castelló and Stangl, but they're so perfectly integrated into the overall sound that it's only in retrospect you realize they were there. The pair also make any number of surprising and rewarding decisions along the way, like the deep, brooding, subtly romantic 'Recaliente'. 'Consuelo' is a real joy--I hope this duo continues on, looking very much forward.
Mikrotöne mit dem Gesicht und dem 'Besame Mucho' von Consuelo Velázquez zu verbinden, das kam Angélica Castelló & Burkhard Stangl für Consuelo (mikroton cd 62) in den Sinn und lädt dazu ein, über Hauntology oder ein feminines Imaginäres in der Lower-Case-Improv-Ästhetik zu spekulieren. Die beiden nennen sich CHESTERFIELD und ich weiß nicht, ob ich da an Zigaretten, einen Mantel oder Ledermöbel denken soll. Die mit Paetzold, Blockflöten, Tapes, Electronics & Strings bzw. Gitarren & Piano erzeugte Klangwelt ist weder englisch noch wienerisch, vielmehr driftet man mit Costelló nach Mexiko, in mit Patina überzogene Erinnerungen, die von der Stimme von Consuelito durchzogen sind. Aber die Vergangenheit ist in diesem Dröhn- und Dreamscape ein vielschichtiges Palimpsest. Stangl pickt an den Saiten wie an Kaktusstacheln, Frösche quarren und wollen geküsst werden ('Bésame'), gern auch Tschechisch ('Polibek') oder Slovenisch ('Poljub'). Der Styx lappt ans Ufer, die Finger gewittern am Piano, träumen aber lieber auf der Gitarre Besame, Besame mucho / Como si fuera ésta noche / La última vez. Geharfte Griffe wechseln mit fordernden Schlägen auf den Saiten. Immer wieder schaffen Castellós Schmauchspuren, Feldaufnahmen oder der mexikanische Schlager im Radio Atmosphäre, und wenn es nur ein störendes Zischen, Pusten oder Knistern ist, in dem das "Bésame-Bésame-Bésame" auf der Stelle tritt. Stangl fingert zuletzt noch einmal als Herzensdieb ('Ladrón'), aber tastet vergeblich wie in Rauch, der unter Castellós flötendem Anhauch verschwindet.
It’s not only Liedwart who is well served by Mikroton. The Mexican sound artist Angélica Castelló is one of a bunch of musicians who have developed ongoing relationships with the label, having appeared a good four or five times in different configurations. This time round she’s teamed up with Burkhart Stangl, the duo conjuring up hazy wafts of hypnagogic improv whose woozy textures and reverberant depths evoke the psychic junk of memories long-buried.
In fact, the duo’s ghostly atmospheres and tentative melodies on ‘Consuelo’ would fit right into a David Lynch flick. Those off-kilter sounds, nostalgic cover art and (mostly) Spanish titles are a shoe-in for the Californian nightmare of ‘Mulholland Drive’, while more abrasive moments are perfect accompaniment for Agent Cooper’s recent shuffles round the Black Lodge.
Check out ‘En Un Nopal’, for example, where a cute tremolo guitar line picks its way through ominous low-end throbs, skipping off into the aether leaving only iron-lung breath and motorised whirrs. In ‘Besame’, cut-up fragments – voices, a pop song sampled and looped so that only the title phrase (Spanish for ‘kiss me’) repeats with frenetic abandon – gabble through gassy clouds, while field recordings of traffic add familiar rumbles. It’s as uncanny, and compelling, as a recurring anxiety dream. And, like Castelló’s other Mikroton outings, it’s damn fine.
Received two records featuring Angélica Castelló from the Mikroton label this season. Castelló is usually associated with the paetzold bass recorder, but she plays other instruments too, and I’m usually left with a dreamlike impression from her musical exploits, of which no two appear to be quite the same; besides her various group performance records, we’ve enjoyed hearing her as a member of Cilantro (with Billy Roisz). On Consuelo (MIKROTON CD 62), she’s recording with Burkhard Stangl and the pair appears as Chesterfield, an oddly reassuring name if you take it as a reference to a comfy sofa, plus there’s a nice nostalgic photo of a woman’s face on the cover. Austrian guitarist Stangl here adds some very romantic piano fugues to the sounds of Castelló (she is credited with tapes, electronic, cello and viola besides the recorders), most strikingly on the title track which is a lively romp through an imaginary Mexican hotel of the 1930s with zig-zag designs hanging on every wall. ‘Polibek’ is likewise an enchanting dream setting with swamp-like purrs and growls in among the gentle furniture movements; somehow Stangl’s spare guitar notes just bring everything into focus, just so. The rest of the album never quite reaches the agitation of that superb opening cut, but there is still much to savour by way of magical atmospheres and inspired moments where field recordings, found tapes of voices and strange layers of subdued music all come together perfectly. This works as an album of minimal improv if you just want to listen to restrained guitar picking and recorder drones, but Castelló is adding so many other elements that the whole of Consuelo emerges as a wonderful fantasy of times past, in Southern US states that never really existed.