In a music world full of terms and definitions that must be somehow used, even if they mean virtually nothing – like «ambient», «electroacoustics», «post-industrial», «neo-minimalism» and so on, how do you explain to the average listener what Cremaster do with a simple mixer with pick ups and some «object» on electric guitar? I’ll try, at least with this «Infra», to say that – first of all – this is maybe Ferran and Alfredo’s best record until 2003. Then I’ll proceed to describe what I perceived as crunching white noise, percussive tapping on the pick ups, frequencies so high they could call a thousand bats right here outside my front door, feedback you could not absolutely control…unless you’re named Ferran Fages, contorting sounds over guitar strings seemingly treated with some kind of lethal acid. At the end of the record, I’ve decided I created another useful but useless cathegory: Cremaster are the current leaders in the «Audiometrics» field… and otorhinolaryngologists be damned (keep your headphones’ volume not SO high, though – and I’m not kidding now).
Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes
There’s more going on in this studio recording than there is in the average sex life of any given hetero couple in ichmond, not that that’s saying much…the two Spaniards Fages and Monteiro go (virtually) wild here, using their wayward guitar pickups, their feedback mixing board (maybe it’s Ouija board) and their foreign objects draped across electric guitar in crazy ways that send sane men mad, yet at end of day cannot conceal the stern, frowning aspect that we expect from severe, cruel Spaniards. It’s as colourful as free jazz, yet as dark as Goya. Four totally abstract acorns of music-stroke-noise, of which the opening salvo delivers reams of tiny fizzing bubbles in a small barrel while a thunderstorm brews in background, as though someone had discovered that drinking champagne adversely affects the weather. Not that this grim, severe music is really good cause for breaking out the bubbly. Maybe some coarse, inexpensive Spanish brandy would hit the mark better. The harsh and mean treatment of sound (and of your exposed ears) is like two young sadists abusing the breasts of a woman by stroking them with wire wool. Yowch. Sorry I wrote that, but it’s true. But keel listening for further evidence of the bite and aggression that Cremaster are capable of, drawing a wide range of sonic tortures – none remotely “musical”, in sense as defined but he Michelin guide – from deliberately very limited range of equipment (but not cheap equipment). 2nd cut comes up for appraisal, here be something strangely chattering (like a mad talking ape) which evolves into an insane morse code message sent from Hell, transmitted along endless telegraph wires while the battle for the Somme rages in the background. And a big raincloud, coloured black, which sucks in electric raindrops, forming on the horizon. Starting to get rather alarmed here. Need more than an umbrella To protect me from these dangerous elements. Stark clarity is foremost with this release; no hiding behind a cloak of distortion for these vicious surgeons of death. A scary single mindedness guides them, I faith. Perhaps Cremaster are two half-mad control freaks / serial killers who function best in the sterile studio, where every last outpouring from minimal instrumentation can be tweaked to ultimate degree by captive engineer, provided they feed him enough coffee and little blue pills. They’re starting from zero, almost. But it’s so alive, so vital in its galvanic performance. Precision of their playing – if you can call it that, as both appear to have totally rethought what it means to be “playing an instrument” in the first place – is inhumanly clean, each action deliberate and considered. Not a single sound is dirty or distorted, even that occasional muffled effect you hear is probably deliberate, as though the duo had already learned how to muffle their scuzzy electric outpourings, as surely as a classical guitarist is able to muffle his nylon strings with tips of calloused fingers to generate the necessary dynamics. Likewise the improvisational interplay between this duo is, perhaps, basic at best – you get simple contrasts, such as high notes against low notes, quick playing against slow drones, and like that, but how devilishly effective it be. Their music can skip along as playfully as Puck dancing across a sylvian glade, even as it leaves a contrail of tense, high pitched noise in its wake that is extremely painful for the listener to endure. But well worth enduring! Recorded by Bernat Romani (who has naturally, since committed suicide) in Barcelona. A harsh antisocial burst from Antifrost, a release that’s capable of wrecking lives.
Ed Pinsent, Sound Projector
Stunning stuff, literally. I listened for the first time to the extraordinary third track here ‘Infra 742’ on the train home to suburbia. It starts off reasonably enough, with a sort of seething, murky edginess that had me in mind of a swarm of insects round a wounded kitten, then drops into gurgling, shuffle of sound that meanders along at the edge of your consciousness, nagging at you like a decaying tooth. A man could forget he had the thing on full volume at this point, five minutes into the track. He might be inclined to stare pensively out of the window at the uniform houses, the overgrown green banks, the dull winding roads of his home town, approaching at snail’s pace through the grime-encrusted windows of the train. He might even close his eyes, and regret his lunchtime excesses, or ponder on the night of bloat and abandonment before him. Eight minutes in, and all of this is suddenly blown out of the water. Starting off with an ominous squeal, like a bird being garrotted with a necktie, there follows two minutes of just about the most extreme music I have ever heard – and I say this from a position of strength, being the owner of some 50 Merzbow albums (many of which I actually paid for) and having spent a whole afternoon last Spring at the Whitney in New York sitting in a darkened room listening to that Maryanne Amacher installation thing that made your ears vibrate for about a month afterwards. The noise Cremaster muster might best be described as an exceptionally loud, piercing screech, undulating wildly in tone and pitch, the sort of noise a raw nerve would make if you sprinkled it with caustic acid. A shame it was so brief, but happily the rest of the album is also pretty good – the second track ‘Infra 444’ being one of the most innovative harsh noise recordings I’ve heard for a very long time.
Stewart Gott, Fluxeuroma.com
cremaster is a project whose work I really enjoyed since I heard their “flysch” cd (review in previous “issue”). Since then antifrost, released a new cd of them called “infra” where things are taken to a greater “extreme” from the previous one. 4 pieces of intense improvisations that to be honest there were lots of times that I had in mind early voicecrack lps, I’d even say lots of the more nihilistic noise (that I love so much) stuff rather more ahem, “classic” improv stuff. I must admit that alfredo costa monteiro & ferran fages have started hallucinating absurd’s central w/ their unique soundscapes, where lots of people seem to follow & keep up the “reductionist” way, they seem to drive things to their outmost extreme, revealing a beautiful (but cruel?) universe… a project to pay a lot of attention to, certainly antifrost’s best release to this date as well. check it out
Nicolas Malevitsis, Absurd
Cremaster contribue a mailler le genre noise d’une nouvelle appellation qu’on qualifiera arbitrairement de swing noise ou noise dansante. Bati autour d’un mixe rotocolaire de feedback et d’effets de guitares preparees, ce duo actif en les personnes de Ferran Fages et Alfredo Costa Monteiro a deja use sa technique au contact des plus rillants activistes contemporains, depuis Francisco Lopez a Peter Kowald, en passant par Pascal Comelade, Andrea Neumann ou Kasper Toeplitz. Traitant la texture de leurs sons avec une rare delicatesse, imprimant quelques doux samples et autres repetitives anicroches de gresillements. La gradation progressive, la construction ebrile, tenue, evoque des Infra 921 des procedes environnementalistes ou l’image forte d’une station polaire a l’abandon, ponctuee par intermittence de bruits distincts de pas dans la neige, de souffles de vents polaires. La fragilite accidentelle s’amplifie, monte, gronde, dessinant les contours d’une sorte d’electro minimale salie et crachee, expectoree. On passe de phases douces, silencieuses a des passages baroques, charges en bruissements et en frottements. Une musique electro-acoustique, xperimentale…. Pour les amateurs d’un grand Nord auditif quelque chose comme Pan sonic, Zbigniew Karkowski et Thomas Koner sur la banquise. Exigeant, difficile d’acces, mais avec de beaux points d’ancrages harmoniques, parfois vibratoires et Droniens.
The guitar is hardly recognized, the two operate in a rather crude and noisy way (which is bytheway not a negative judgement, in fact it’s rather nice to hear
for this kind of music), but the feedback played on the mixing board is rather kept to a minimum. An important feature on this new CD are crackles – they seem to be everywhere. Static charges unfold via the hum of the guitar element, playing back via the mixer. Again Cremaster don’t make it very easy for the listeners, but operate in a rather die-hard niche of hardcore free improv noise. They manage well. (
Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly
Cremaster – an anatomist can’t go past a muscular name – is Ferran Fages on feedback mixing board and pick ups with Alfreddo Costa Monteiro on ‘objects on electric guitar’ and hail from Barcelona. But you can’t hear much Spain in here, nor that much guitar.
What you do get is four tracks of glitchy edged soundscaping noise that is unrelenting and unforgiving. Composed mainly of crackles scrapes squalls high-tones scrunching puttering scrabbles (that sound like rubbed mikes) and more (pretty indescribable in any meaningful way) the music rises and falls, ebbing and flowing through. There are moments of rhythm and percussive loops, but mainly and improvised electronica. The guitar is apparent in less obvious ways – a patter that is probably tapped soundboard, a rubbing noise that is the wood stroked, probable string scrape. But we are far from the instrument. There are 4 tracks: ‘Infra 921’ is the longest at 15 minutes and has a number of climaxes and releases, with a long restrained ambience in the centre. In ‘Infra 444’ there is a suggestion of voices (and I mean suggestion, could be an emergent property), building putter rhythms to begin with, some loose cabling, building with some almost organic sounds. Another longer piece ‘Infra 742’ has deep rumbles rapid bips and rhythmic scrapes and an almost moaning and also has a very soft extended passage before a noisey squarl build up. Finally ‘Infra221’ has a more woody sound with the taping, and a quite rhythmic scrape giving it a more focussed structure (as it is only 4 minutes long). Intense and demanding, played low this can just about become an atmosphere, but the harsh edges undercut it. Its place is as a direct and upfront sound to fill an environment or space. As such it is exciting and the varied pace and assault provide contrasts.
This duo consists of Ferran fages (feedback, mixing board, Spanish) and Alfredo Costa Monteiro (objects on electric guitar, Portuguese). The first thing one notices listening to their debut album is that the guitar can not be recognized as such. Cremaster’s debut album opens with dense electronic noises,
reminding of digital rain. Lots of digital crisps and crackles follow later on, interchanged with noises reminding of disturbed radio frequencies. Some moments of musique concrete pass by as well. These elements can all be found in the first 15 minute long title-track. Except for some high-pitched noise moments in the second track, the remaining tracks feature about the same ingredients. The music does not get loud in general, but nevetheless Cremaster do not make it the listener easy or comfortable. This album is as harsh as hardcore free improvisation noise can be. No compromises, no weak moments!