Atolón is a Barcelona trio consisting of Ferran Fages and Alfredo Costa Monteiro—who, as a duo, are known as Cremaster—plus trumpeter Ruth Barberán. The single 35- minute track was recorded at Can Felipa, in Barcelona, in January 2011. Although recorded by Another Timbre proprietor Simon Reynell, the album is actually released on the St. Petersburg-based Intonema, despite Reynell’s label previously having released recordings by the three, notably the excellent Lúnula (2009) by Octante, which is Atolón plus Portuguese double bassist Margarida Garcia. Cremaster, Atolón, Octante—are you managing to keep track of these names?
Concret makes an interesting contrast with Pluie Fine (Potlatch, 2012), on which Cremaster collaborated with violinist Angharad Davies. In contrast to the duo, where he focuses on electro-acoustic devices and electric guitar, Monteiro here plays accordion plus objects, which significantly alters the soundscape, giving it more warmth and humanity than the occasionally harsh, electronic tone of the duo. Barberán’s trumpet has the same effect, particularly when it is muted to create an appealingly vulnerable tone.
It is not all touchy-feely though. Throughout there is a chillingly disconcerting metallic tone lurking which contrasts dramatically with the analogue sounds. Together, the three players put together a constantly shifting piece that can be unexpectedly altered in an instant by a contribution from any of the three, rather than gently evolving. Most often, such scene-shifting interventions arrive courtesy of Fages, but the other two can have just as dramatic an effect. Altogether, this is exemplary trio improvisation resulting in gripping music.
John Eyles, All about jazz
concret est le quatrième album du trio Atolón (le précédent – que je n’ai pas chroniqué ici – est paru sur le label Esquilo). On retrouve la même formation ainsi que les mêmes instruments (ACM à l’accordéon + objets, FF à la platine acoustique + objets, et la trompettiste Ruth Barberán). concret est constitué d’une seule pièce de 35 minutes et est, par rapport aux deux premiers disques du trio, plus calme et linéaire, plus statique et contemplative. On trouve également moins de reliefs au niveau de l’intensité hormis sur les dix dernières excellentes minutes.
Ceci-dit, c’est loin d’être négatif. Car ainsi, le son a le temps de se poser et de se dévoiler encore plus profondément. Les textures durent et évoluent de manière minimale. Comme lors de leurs précédents enregistrements, les trois musiciens espagnols jouent toujours sur la confusion entre les sources, et produisent une musique entièrement acoustique qui s’inspire fortement de la musique électronique ou électroacoustique expérimentale et improvisée. Une musique à tendance toujours réductionniste qui ressemble à de l’eai sans en être à proprement parler. Le genre de formation en somme qui démontre la profonde influence que l’électronique a pu avoir sur les techniques instrumentales et les nouvelles couleurs employées au sein de la musique improvisée. Le trio continue de jouer sur des registres extrêmes, graves ou aigus, et sur des textures de plus en plus homogènes qui gagnent ainsi en force et en puissance. Une musique qui paraît industrielle et parasitaire mais qui se révèle très vite sensible et poétique, intime, riche et inventive. Également recommandé.
Julien Héraud, Improv sphère
A welcome return from Atolon–Ruth Barberán (trumpet, objects), Ferran Fages (acoustic turntable, objects) and Alfredo Costa Monteiro (accordion, objects). A single, 35 minute performance from a bit over two years ago, it largely dwells in an area full of keening groans, the accordion wheezing, the trumpet emitting low flutters and the acoustic turntable doing whatever it is that hose devices do. Dronish in character, in the sense of long sounds, but within those tones there’s great irregularity and the overlaps also follow no perceptible pattern, resulting in a fine, rich shifting-sands feel, with vast amounts of welcome impurities. The steady state occupies the first 20 or so minutes, drifting into a lovely place where one hears flute-like tones, the accordion respiring beneath, at which point there’s an eruption, the turntable splintering into extremely sharp shards, howling. It subsides, not without anxiety and pinpricks, resuming the nervous flow, Barberán’s steady horn providing the signposts.
Well-structured, solid and forthright in its trek, happy to hear them again.
Brian Olewnick, Just outside
The trio of Alfredo Costa Monteiro, Ferran Fages and Ruth Barberán have been making music as a trio on and off for more than a decade now. This is (I think) their fourth album together as a trio, but they have appeared together in quite a few other group formations along the way as well. This new recording was made early in 2011 by Simon Reynell in Barcelona. A further release featuring the Atolón trio alongside the Irish/Swedish quartet ChipShop Music has also just appeared on Reynell’s Another Timbre label. Costa Monteiro and Fages also work together a great deal under their Cremaster moniker, and recent work thy have been involved with has leant more often towards the electronic side of their canon, so in many ways its really nice to reacquaint ourselves with their acoustic playing, as Concret sees Costa Monteiro, Fages and Barberán put to use accordion, acoustic turntable and trumpet to use respectively.
Where Concret really hits the spot for me is through the way the trio work so seamlessly well together. There is in essence, nothing particularly innovative or unusual about the music here. The way the three combine their serrated edges and pockmarked textures is fantastic to wallow in, but it was this way a decade ago also. There is nothing here that is a surprise, no conceptual leaps forward, but like the way that opening a bottle of Chablis from a new vintage brings you familiar flavours and experiences, but with a new depth, so hearing Concret works in a similar way. We know roughly what to expect, but the intensity of the experience grows as the group build on their intimate internal musical relationships. These are three musicians that know each other very well indeed, and know how to push and pull at one another to create vibrant, intimately fascinating music. Let it just drift past your ears and its reasonably pleasing. Delve into it, savour each moment, untangle every knot of combined sounds, and like all well made improvised music its a joy to follow.
So the “acoustic turntable” sees Fages let metallic and other objects rub against a spinning surface. Costa Monteiro’s accordion wheezes and wails but never quite sounds a firm note. Barberán’s trumpet switches from gaseous clouds to brittle vibrations, again without ever sounding much like a trumpet, but the individual voices in here don’t seem to matter, the group come together and work as one seething, constantly morphing mass of twisted musical detritus. There are some nice surprises. the twenty minute mark sees the trio burst into an electrifying wall of vibrant textures- something held firmly and loudly against the spinning turntable, the trumpet wrenching metallic blasts, the accordion laying a heaving wall of wasp-like buzzes behind. Again though its the uniform way that the group come together here that is really inspiring. As if on a signal all three switch direction seamlessly into this fiery assault. Its not a case of one of the trio changing direction and the others following, it all just shifts gear at once. There then, in that section lies the pleasure I find in this disc. Knowing the musicians, knowing their relationships together, then hearing them find musical ways to project those relationships onwards through art is a wonderful thing to follow, a joy to be a part of as a listener. As I write tonight I have a stinking cold, a headache and partly blocked hearing, and yet playing this disc through a few times was still a pleasure.
Richard Pinnell, The Watchful Ear