Alfredo Costa Monteiro


tria atoma

I was disappointed to discover that the band name ‘300 Basses’ isn’t a literal description of the group’s ensemble, but rather refers to an accordion trio comprised of Jonas Kocher, Alfredo Costa Monteiro, and Luca Venitucci. Nevertheless, their album “Tria Atoma” on Amsterdam’s Moving Furniture Records is well worth exploring. First track ‘Atoma Tria’ consists of continuous slow chords from which arise numerous resonant and gently beating harmonies, the accordions producing timbres that are full and weighty without becoming overly lush. It’s not a new approach, but it’s well done nonetheless.

Dramatic keening crescendos augmented by bowed cymbal screeches are held apart by silence in second piece ‘Atoma Dio’. I’m not really a fan of melodrama, but there’s more subtlety and nuance here than might have been suggested by the work’s structure. Even at the height of a blast, the trio’s interest seems to remain focused on how things sound rather than on simple somatic shock. Often, the cacophony fades away to reveal detailed microbiomes of harmony and texture.

Final track ‘Atoma Ena’ combines the muted dynamics of the first piece with the second’s structure and use of silence. I sometimes received a mournful, even elegiac impression from this piece, even though it doesn’t seem to set out to manipulate the emotions — the slow, smooth attack and timbral flatness of the accordions produces a sort of blankness that can be quite moving. There’s nothing on “Tria Atoma” that to my ears sounds particularly ground-breaking, but I’ve come back to it again and again over the past month or so, and enjoyed it more than I was expecting each time.

Nathan Thomas, Fluid radio.


Three accordions and, only in the central movement, a bowed cymbal slightly disrupting what on a first appearance was a reposeful, if modestly solemn set of extended tight clusters. Jonas Kocher, Alfredo Costa Monteiro and Luca Venitucci explicate very few concepts in just over 34 minutes, mixing held tones and brief silences barely disturbed by low muffled noises, a supposed osmosis from the neighborhood surrounding the recording studio. At times, the sensation was that of hearing those humming presences as ghosts coming from the bellows’ insides.

As usual with this type of experiment, the listener’s involvement lies in the quivering produced by contiguous upper partials. Nothing that wasn’t heard before, but the accordions gift these skeletal drones with an evident breathy quality which enriches and, in a sense, humanizes the constitution of the collective texture. You can study the inherent movements and enjoy how the single voices go their own way, perhaps choosing a singalong tone to join this unpretentious ritual. Still, the best fruits are those offered by the collaboration of a specific environment. The walls and the furniture influence the trajectories of the combined harmonics; the silence offers a shelter to the harsher chords. And when the window was open, it was nice to hear the communion between this music and the echoes from the neighboring valleys.

Massimo Ricci, Touching extremes.


Slowly Dutch label Moving Furniture Records becomes the best place for new music releases in this country. Lots of their artists are Dutch, which I always think is a great thing (unlike the situation for festivals for new music in The Netherlands, where it is hard to perform if you are Dutch; they rather rehash the same thing over and over again), but there are also foreign artists to be found in their catalogue. Obviously the label boss decides what to release and with his own musical project being Orphax it’s perhaps not a surprise he likes a lot of drone music.
In that respect you think that a trio of accordion players might be a bit out of place, but what these three do fits very much the ideas of the label. I reviewed their debut CD ‘Sei Ritornelli’ in Vital Weekly 839 and here they have a new release, recorded over a few days in Athens last year. I am not sure if that means these recordings are ‘live’ or in any way the result of studio tricks, such as multi-tracking. Not that it all really matters, I should think. We have here three pieces, played by Luca Venitucci, Jonas Kocher and Alfredo Costa Monteiro, of which the latter also plays objects on his accordion. These three pieces last in total thirty-five minutes and have some of the best acoustic drone music around. They press keys down and play very slowly to create a wonderfully rich field of overtones. 300 Basses’ music sound sometimes like bows playing cymbals; perhaps they use cymbals to play accordion? The music is the not, so it seems, the result of improvisation, but of playing carefully constructed pieces, in which silence plays a big role from time to time. The changes within each of these pieces are quite minimal, but they work very well. All of these are wonderfully paced and placed. It makes that this album fits perfectly in the world of Moving Furniture Records, partly because it contains the well-known drone music by this label, and on the other hand while all of this sounds so differently, coming from an acoustic end. I would love to see them play in concert one day!

Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly


Er gebeurt niks. Helemaal niks? Bijna dan. Op z’n best. Niet genoeg om wakker te schrikken. Geen wonder dat hij weg-knikkebolt achter zijn laptop. Hoe hard de muur aan geluid ook door de PA jaagt. Geen ontwikkeling. Geen dynamiek. Geen progressie. Geen narratief. Dat is waar het Phill Niblock om gaat. Daar heeft de Amerikaanse componist een jarenlange, glansrijke carrière mee opgebouwd. Zijn microtonale muziek is niet per se minimaal. Integendeel wellicht zelfs: de piepkleinste zwalkingen van tonen rond de grondnoot van de drone zorgen voor boven- en ondertoonstapelingen van jewelste; een solide massaliteit van geluid. Misschien wel als driehonderd bassen.

Rhys Chatham componeert daverende symfonieën voor tientallen elektrisch gitaristen. Dat zou hij ook voor driehonderd bassen kunnen doen. Francisco López schreef een werk voor driehonderd cassettetapes, waarin de ruis in de slag gaat met lage frequenties. Gek genoeg zoekt het trio 300 Basses het niet in de onderste regionen van het klankspectrum. En massaal of massief is hun geluid ook al niet. Hun configuraties van ijle klanken neigen naar muziek voor lange snaren, met een zekere inslag van Pauline Oliveros. Interferenties en microtonaliteiten zijn niet de enige factoren in hun composities. Daarin speelt ook de botsing van verschillende timbres en stemmingen een belangrijke rol.

300 Basses laat een met strijkstok bespeelde cymbaal samenvallen met of botsen tegen een accordeon en niet een-twee-drie thuis te brengen resonante voorwerpen. Het sterkst werkt hun opeenstapeling als meervoudig belichte fotografische film wanneer het ontwikkelproces de gelegenheid krijgt zich langzaam te ontspinnen. Dan openen zich doorkijkjes richting het oneindig sublieme, vibrerend en vol nuances. Waar 300 Basses echter op zoek gaat naar geluidsgebeurtenissen, neemt dramatiek de overhand. Dan gaan de drie te veel ‘doen’, alsof ze zich plots geen raad weten met de veelheid aan permutaties. Daar valt de bodem weg en dwarrelen de klanken doelloos door de ruimte. Geduld en de kunst van het weglaten om meer te bereiken, blijkt ook hier een schone zaak.

Sven Schlijper, Kindamuzik.