Alfredo Costa Monteiro


anatomy of inner place


Costa Monteiro has created some of the most fascinating music of the last decade and this release continues that string. One never knows just what he might have up his sleeve from one disc to the next — paper as sole sound source? Turntable? Accordion? None of the above? But there’s a consistency to his sound-world, a Costa Monteiro-esque aura that’s all his own. Here, he’s used sounds entirely derived from a certain «inner place», his home. The results might be loosely characterized as drone music in the sense that the sounds are lengthy and multi-layered, but there’s a granularity in play and a deep textural appreciation that often escapes many drone-meisters.
No information is provided as to the specific sources but mention is made that all are presented «as is», with only dynamic manipulation and recombination on Costa Monteiro’s part. One guesses various electronic effluvia were captured — the hums of household devices — but that swiftly becomes of no concern as the listener is engulfed by the swarm. It’s a fairly gentle swarm as these things go, none of the onslaught of a Francisco Lopez, for example, but sometimes all the more threatening for this subtlety. The second track billows out like compressed steam into a subterranean chamber; just when it first subsides and you can barely make out faint images in the background, it surges forward again. While most of the sounds have been burred and rough thus far, an almost pure (slightly raspy) clear tone intrudes at the very end, a disturbing punctuation. The third is more of a roar, almost a watery onrush for much of its length before subsiding to a dull rumble. The disc closes with a more subdued track but one that’s vast in its implied expanse. Portions sound for all the world like airplane propellers or outboard motors; numerous layers but each isolated by a unique sound-set making for a wonderfully dense matrix yet one that yields to differentiation when listened to closely. All four pieces are fine, but this last one is a knockout, as rich and solid a piece of industrial drone as you’re likely to hear.
Brian Olewnick, The Squid’s Ear

A very introspective CD, «Anatomy Of Inner Place» is, on the surface, little more than your usual noise offering – an unfocused sprawl, 45 minutes of not very much. But consider this: everything here, the «anatomy» that makes up the whole, is unmodified domestic sounds – a vacuum cleaner, a hair dryer, water boiling. They cry out for their usual everyday context to fit into, but by estranging them from this we are asked consider those things that go unnoticed because we are so used to them; the mundane sounds of everyday life.
Each track acts as an aural snapshot, evoking an almost voyeuristic feeling, tinged with the uncomfortable thought that this could be a recording of your own home. With nothing to enhance the bare sounds to a level where they can be satisfactorily labelled as being made by a specific person or place, they become more than just regular noises – far from being reduced to an anonymous background hum, they are unsettling and at times overly threatening. By restricting our focus to just the sounds themselves, Monteiro (primarily a visual artist, making this purely audio offering seem even more actively severed from its usual setting) allows them to take on a life of their own: storms swell and fade in the rotor-like blades of a fan, and the steady sound of vacuuming becomes a black hole into which all notions of time and space disappear. The layered sounds are alien, jarring, becoming almost unbearable, then fading suddenly to nothing… and the silence they leave behind is deafening.
Catherine C. [6/10]

We find Alfredo Costa Monteira, of whom we recently reviewed ‘Epicycle’ (see Vital Weekly 611). He was concerned back then with the voice, now it’s the inner place, the household objects. ‘All the sound sources are part of my domestic environment. Every sound is used here as it was recorded with no electronic effects or processing except for dynamics. Some sounds result from acoustic combinations of other sounds’. I am not sure if Monteiro thought of Pink Floyd, who wanted to do a record of household objects, but Monteiro limits himself to apparatus around the house which make a mechanical sound, washing machines, hair driers, coffee grinding – things like that. He cuts all of these sounds together in quite a nice way. Collage like. Sounds start and stop while others continue. Sometimes in a noisy manner, sometimes in an ambient manner, but quite nice. You could wonder if a 3″ CD wouldn’t have been right enough to make the same point, but throughout it’s all quite alright. A sort of much more intellectual noise, whilst also taking the piss out of the field recording posse.
Frans de Ward, Vital Weekly 614