“The quartet Octante is a guarantee that the music might be a bit minimalistic. Done. The musicians pass under the lowest bar of limbo dance. We have heard this kind of music before, but within given frames it is also possible to find new cavities for each instrument to find out what kind of echoes there are. Done. The quartet creates a crackling and crunching kind of sound. It is being utterly condensed. It is not very easy even to separate the different instruments from one another. The quartet has turned into one common music machine. It is tight as a sore in a shoe!
Monteiro’s accordion breathes slightly asthmatically. Garcia’s bass acts as a pulse. Fages creates echoing sounds. And all of them are tightly embraced, moving the same sounds around. I came to think about the box with the music by Norweigan genius Svein Finnerud. On the DVD the musicians take part in a kind of musical happening, where they wrestle very slowly embracing one another turning over and over again half naked. I sense this music in the same way. It is very ritualistic.
And then Ruth Barberán! Her trumpet changes between different sounds and moves as if she was swimming in deep waters. It gives life to a music that could have been just a good piece among other good pieces. I do not know what it is, maybe the heat and passion, the persistence in forming the notes. It is indeed intense when she splits the stream of air into several small wet sounds. Or how close she is when Monteiro lets the accordion breathe a little less breathlessly. They exhale and relax together. Her tone is like wet woollen cloth over the others. Her trumpet warms the music up. She takes it into elementary, atavistic and unsophisticated directions, giving it a sense of meditation. There are no pretty phrases left and she does not have to show off. After the first quarter of an hour she squeezes the notes to death. The accordion prepares a sweet bed for her. But Garcia finds some simple beats and soon everyone is moving again in a strange singing ritual. And the music turns into a somnambulant state of mind. They move between dreaming and wakefulness. Time, space and direction stop. Garcia plays a strange lullaby with her bow. On her own. Ok!? In the middle of the stream of music she plays a solo by her own, a room for a strange and utterly beautiful solo. Her introvert joy creates echoes among the others, before the sound disappears totally.
This is one way to describe a part of this music. It is like a scene, it creates space and is full of events. As soon as you get used to the short sound you get your reward. And within the frame of this fairly homogenous quartet you also notice some extraordinary musicians, especially Barberán.
But alas I have to finish with pointing out some shortcomings in this beautiful album. These Spanish musicians are not very well known across the world. Why is there practically no information here? And also I wonder about the picture on the front;it resembles a picture by Kim Hiorthøy in the booklet of Original Silence The Second Original Silence. Could this really be a coincidence?… But last but not least: the music on this record is magnficient.”
Thomas Millroth, The Sound of Music
“Ferran Fages is a self-taught 35 year old from Barcelona, who started out in rock but then moved simultaneously into electronics and a solo style that plugs deep into flamenco roots. He’s heard using oscillators and pick-ups for the mysterious, trumpet-led Lunula, teamed with the impressive Ruth Barberán, accordionist Alfredo Costa Monteiro and electric bassist Margarida Garcia. The group music is softly fractured, elusive, ends and beginnings elided and the tone at times almost disturbingly intimate. It’s possible here and there to tease out Fages’s contribution, and it’s surprising to hear how consistent a soundworld he inhabits. Like his guitar playing, his electronics work reaches impressively for duende, that untranslatable sorrow/joy/anger/love/death spirit that suffuses Iberian culture and defines Catalan art in particular. Ferran Conangla’s mixing gives the music an intense presence, like something that unfolds unheard and in the head. It adds another fine disc to Another Timbre’s already impressive list.”
Brian Morton, The Wire
“The Barcelona-based trio of Ruth Barberán, Ferran Fages, and Alfredo Costa Monteiro have created a handful of strong releases as a trio, surveying the outer timbral frontiers that can be created from trumpet, accordion, and resonant objects. They’ve also collaborated with bassist Margarida Garcia, releasing their eponymous recording six years ago on the l’Innomable label. While on the earlier release it was almost impossible to tell the sound sources of the various threads, the players are more at ease letting the intrinsic nature of their instruments come through on the two half-hour long improvisations captured here. Barberán’s trumpet can sputter or screech with a scrubbed brassiness, Costa Monteiro pushes his instrument to reedy overtones and lets its air-driven organ-like drones shake through the group, Fages’s oscillators and pickups send out skirling sine waves and buzzing groans, and Garcia’s electric double bass accentuates the dark, full tones of her instrument, using electronics to subtly extend the textures. There is a restless intensity to this music, but the performers never lose the collective thread. The second piece is a bit more open than the first, and the four let long tones and drones hang and reverberate off each other, slowly gathering force and density. The pristine recording lets every nuance come through. It’s another compelling entry from these musicians and yet another in an incredible line of winners for Another Timbre.”
Michael Rosenstein, Paris Transatlantic
“The second recording by this quartet, if I’m not mistaken, their first since 2003. More forceful than I might have anticipated, very rich and…whatever the adjective is for the sound of rubbing on surfaces of various textures and tensile qualities. It sometimes sounds, on the first of the two long tracks, that all four are deliciously drawing bows across multiple parts of their respective instruments. The second track begins with more space, more separation of instruments and perhaps nods a bit toward efi. It gradually splays out nicely though, seeping into far, quiet corners, before regrouping for some fine, harsher dronage and skronk. Four solid, strong releases, all of which I’d recommend hearing.”
Brian Olewnick, Just Outside
“Octante is the quartet of Ruth Barberán (trumpet, speaker, microphones), Alfredo Costa Monteiro (accordion and objects), Ferran Fages (oscillators and pick ups) and Margarida Garcia (electric double bass). Sophistication is not an option with these people, who have grown us used to a dispassionate deflowering of timbral certainties over the (y)ears, either in group or individually. At once cluttered with calmly delivered invectives and allowing lots of elbow-room for individual affirmation, this music copulates with the demons of an unlikely efficiency which transits across the most disgustingly exciting, remarkably abominable clash of instrumental deformations, projecting the collective result against a white wall that emphasizes the raw allure of the machination. Splintered capsules of drooling whispers get rebuilt and reutilized with a little help from undulating electronic discharges; percussive realism and painstaking dismemberment of drowsiness fit together perfectly, contributing to a cynic rationalism whose pale skin is entirely compatible with the concept of impartiality. Still, there are moments in which this soulless combination of parallel nihilisms reaches an ideal balance between mild perturbation and bad intention, and it’s exactly in those occasions that the whole sounds terrific in its total absence of useless frills. Divergence becomes harmonic comprehension, peril turns into temptation, inner animalism brings a weird clarification. The discerning aural sensibility of the musicians determines the exact moment where the experiment might become a hymn to vulgarity, always curbing the desire of going beyond that limit at a precisely right time. And when droning terror kicks in, a peculiar sense of ever-suspicious satisfaction puts a grip on the mind and does not let it go. If you need caresses and kisses this is anathema, but the cognoscenti who haven’t added this CD to their collection yet should act fast. Unquestionably great stuff. “
Massimo Ricci, Temporary Fault
“Octante follow in the time-honoured improvised music tradition of naming a group after the title of their first album. That first album appeared on the excellent l’innomable label back in 2004. Octante are a Barcelona based group mad eup of Ruth Barberan (trumpet and speakers with mic) Alfredo Costa Monteiro, (accordion and objects for this release) Ferran Fages, (oscillators and pick ups on this occasion) and Margarida Garcia. (electric double bass) Though this is only their second album as a complete quartet there have been several releases by the members of the group in different smaller formations.
Lúnula contains two tracks, each near as damn it half an hour long. The first is a quiet, edgy, brooding affair. Various members of this group are quite capable of cutting loose and making quite a bit of noise together, but here we are witness to a nervous, almost cautious thirty minutes within which the group tend towards playing in little groups of two or three rather than all at once, and although there is little silence to as such, there is a good degree of restraint to be heard in the playing. As with many of the previous releases by these musicians there isn’t a lot of colour in the music. If this first piece was a painting then it would be a series of little brown or grey scribbles overlapping only slightly against a grey background. There is a lot of scraping, rubbing texture here, with just a few moments of cleanly blown trumpet and a curious patch of continuous bass rhythm breaking up the pattern. Its good stuff, albeit a little predictable. There are some nice little moments conjured up here and there, little cliffhangers that make you stop and wonder where the music might go next, though these questions are quickly answered and things settle into a comfortable formation again soon after. Unlike other recent Another Timbre discs this isn’t one that I can see myself grabbing to play again and again, but it is still a good listen, and if you stop for a moment and ask how the musicians are getting these particular sounds from their instruments then a further layer of intrigue is uncovered.
The second track is a busier affair, the first half much more full, with bowed and continual scraped sounds merging with sustained deep trumpet hums to give the music much more volume, in every sense of the word. Again this is darkly tinted improvisation, more of a crawl around a dusty disused warehouse than a run around a summer garden. It all moves quite slowly, with sounds tending towards slow growth rather than sudden appearance, with the latter half of this second track drifting off into a more droney nature in its second half, with individual instruments slowly becoming that little bit harder to pick out until a nice, erratic ending makes you really sit up and listen to the last few minutes.
Lúnula is good, I like it quite a bit, but I can’t help feel that the quartet would benefit from a fifth, rogue element added to its number, perhaps someone with a wider palette of sounds, a pianist perhaps, or even just Ferran Fages playing electric guitar in the manner of his recent solo releases. Its not that the music here is particularly one-dimensional, but it does exist within quite tight boundaries, and while it would be incorrect and unfair to suggest that the musicians here are going through the motions it does all feel a little comfortable and familiar. Still, a nice disc to play tonight with all the windows open and just a tiny breeze cutting through the humidity.
Richard Pinnell, The Watchful Ear
“Octante features IBA stalwarts trumpeter Ruth Barberan, accordionist Alfredo Costa Monteiro, and Ferran Fages, a guitarist who now favours electronics. These three have played together in different configurations including as a trio, and know each other well. Here they are joined by Portuguese double bassist Margarida Garcia, maybe best known for her collaborations with Manuel Mota. The musicians produce a variety of sounds using various means; distinguishing individual contributions is not easy. Acoustic and electronic sounds ebb and flow creating a shifting, kaleidoscopic soundscape.
The album consists of two tracks, each just under half an hour. They present contrasting sides of the quartet’s playing. The first, «Onda 2856,» is relatively subdued and evolves slowly, with Garcia’s bowed bass providing a highly satisfying underpinning drone. The second, «Onda 2904,» is more garrulous and dramatic. Barberan’s trumpet is distinguishable and is central throughout; she favours mournful sustained notes which colour the music around her.
It is debatable whether there is any identifiable Iberian sensibility that imbues this music. Be that as it may, running through the music is a sense of melancholy that is affecting and pleasurable in equal measures. It is to be hoped that this fine album serves to further raise the profile of these musicians and of Barcelona itself.”
John Eyles, All About Jazz
Trompettes, microphones, accordéon, objets, « oscillators and pick ups », contrebasse électrique… Ce sont des poussées sonores qui évoquent de vieilles poulies grinçantes, pédaliers rouillés, balançoires couineuses, mais cosmiques. Poulies, pédaliers, balançoires, que dis-je ? Je dois parler de nano-poulies, nano-pédaliers, nano-balançoires, nano-leviers… Il faut tendre l’oreille, c’est ténu, comme venu d’un monde en principe inaudible, qu’il faut grossir, placer sous la loupe, l’intérieur d’un corps de plus en plus envahi par une population technologique de micro-machines, l’intérieur d’un corps dans lequel on se trouve, dans lequel flotte notre corps, le Grand Corps… Allez savoir, j’associe les sons écoutés, la façon dont ils s’entrecroisent, leur tuilage sophistiqué, lisse ou ébouriffé, d’une part aux bruits métalliques de tôles vibrantes, l’une contre l’autre, selon des vibrations qui les déplacent, les hérissent et, d’autre part, au silence majestueux que dessinent les oiseaux migrateurs dans le ciel, formes géométriques muettes pourtant pleine d’efforts, des étoilements éphémères. Sidérurgiste et éolien. High-tech designé et archaïque comme la situation d’un engin aérospatial perdu dans le cosmos est à la fois extrême avant-poste de la civilisation et proche de son néant. Il y a les émissions sonores des engins et divers dispositifs (micros, pick ups, objets, oscillateur…), grésillements, brasillements, parasites, gazouillis techno, poussières soniques qui s’organisent pour construire des architectures légères, des ponts, des passerelles, des filets sur le rien. Une poussée chuintante, fragile, trace un fil. Une autre aiguë repasse presque dessus, ça tient, voici une marque. En suspens, une passerelle. Plusieurs particules stridentes, étouffées, se suspendent, fixent une dentelle éclatée à ce filament. Points de soudure. Ainsi de suite, les poussières colonisent le vide, avancent, l’arrière-garde progressivement engloutie. Comme le givre et ses végétations fantomatiques sur les vitres. (Comme les acouphènes, dans le silence de l’organisme, fait office d’ouverture d’un dialogue douloureux, bruitiste, avec l’autre monde, l’inconscient, les points morts de la matière.) Quand le réseau de ces bruits s’est répandu, l’accordéon intervient, lui imprime une poussée plus ample, respiratoire, ou la contrebasse une impulsion tellurique et charnelle, la trompette un déplacement heurté ferroviaire. Ainsi un monde progresse selon ses révolutions. Les roues immenses d’un moulin à eau dans la voie lactée. Cette parade bruitiste ressemble assez à ce noir scintillant, piqué de vertiges, de points hallucinés, en quoi consiste l’être quand il se ferme les yeux, paupières appuyées, enfoncées, une obscurité tactile. Prélude à l’invention de nouvelles étoiles, comment on se figure leur naissance, comment on rêve voyager d’étoiles en étoiles. Ce CD contient la musique de cette activité cérébrale, semble dire que l’on ne vit pas sans cette musique intérieure qui nous permet de projeter dans le ciel de nouveaux astres, nouvelles configurations astrologiques et ainsi nommer ce que l’on fantasme dans les cieux selon sa cosmologie interne. Marcher dans les étoiles doit produire ce genre de grésillement, de murmures et tourbillons, exactement comme quand on marche en forêt dans l’épaisse couverture, dépouille des arbres…. La question reste comment écouter « ces musiques », sinon pour restituer ce qu’elles apportent à l’imaginaire, à la voyance musicale ? Par rapport aux musiques construites de manière « classique », avec repères rythmiques et mélodies (pour le dire vite), elles sont souvent taxées de « dire la même chose », parce qu’elles sont dans le spontané, ce qui sort en premier, le vocabulaire immédiat, ce qui empêcherait de construire plus en profondeur, de faire dire autre chose, d’aller puiser dans des significations que l’écriture élaborée et formelle permettrait d’atteindre et d’élaborer. Pourtant, « ces musiques » ont leur rigueur, leur construction. Il faut le rappeler, expliquer le sérieux de leurs protocoles créatifs (leur déconstruction est surtout nouvelles constructions). Ensuite, exposer leur riche potentiel narratif, non pour prétendre dire ce qu’elles expriment de manière consciente et déterminée selon le projet du musicien (ça lui appartient), mais pour ouvrir la relation aux sons et leur plasticité, démontrer que « ces musiques » élargissent le champ de l’audible et de la narration musicale, du vocabulaire et de la grammaire sonores, permettent de raconter sur le monde et l’univers (social, naturel, technologique) des réalités, des points de vue très complexes et diversifiés, grâce à leurs formats variables, à l’hétérogénéité de leurs matériaux et de leurs techniques. (A contrario, si l’exprimable par la mélodie, par exemple, est très étendu, sans doute reste-t-il il abstrait et par là même moins riche en récits possibles, en visions, en discours critiques sur ce que l’oreille perçoit et qui est le seuil où commence à se construire une autonomie de l’auditeur attentif…)
PH, Médiathèque Bruxelles