[…] Of a more radical nature are the improvisations by I Treni Inerti. Two trumpet players (Matt Davis and Ruth Barberán) and an accordion player, Alfredo Costa Monteiro. There is some pretty radical playing going on, both on the trumpet and on the accordion. Tones are produced that are not likely to link back to the original sounds these instruments are known for. Unlike «Assemblage», I Treni Inerti sometimes go way out the extreme, holding tones for some time at quite some volume and sometimes it sinks to the level of inaudibility. Their tension lies in a somewhat different area then «Assemblage»: more in the shock surprise of dynamics. But overall this has turned out into a very nice work as well.
Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly
A pair of trumpets – Matt Davis and Ruth Barberàn – plus Alfredo Costa Monteiro on accordion: this is «I treni inerti», italian translation of «Inert trains» and, of course, a palindrome name for the trio. Here, nothing can be judged for its appearance, for the musicians seem intent to analyze the organic results of their alchemy through (and around) their body more than any kind of tonal/harmonic context: just think that the first «real», long note coming out of your speakers is after about 10 minutes from the CD’s start. The whole concept is based on what you’d call the «new silence» current of improvisation: a lot of space, rare moments in which a form or a line seems to take over, only to disappear in the no man’s land of forgotten memories. This is a record that can be enjoyed at medium volume, mixing it with your ordinary everyday activities; otherwise, you should seat in front of this creature in utter silence, try to find an impossible definition for it.
Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes
The amazing I Treni Inerti «Ura», the result of the recording of the trio of Alfredo Costa Monteiro on accordion (of the unique Cremaster fame), Ruth Barberán on trumpet and Matt Davis on trumpet, this is a recording that since the first time I listened to it not only did it capture me, I’d say blasted me instead… I must admit here that (as some of you might know) that I’m really strange regarding recordings of trumpets, saxes, clarinets, whatever wind instruments in general, perhaps this is the reason why I admire more the “new school” of improvisation compared to the old school, whose greatest part anylonger sounds more free jazzy to me rather than free improv, anyway that’s my point of view, of course as you might there are always people & recordings that can balance both “schools” in such as way or better to say in such a recorded way that someone can mention a recording as a reference record. And this is what I believe for «Ura», it is a recording that can be classified under any “school” you want to, be it the new improv school, the old improv school, I dare to say that can be classified under a “classic” or an “experimental” school, a recording where at the moment that you think that silence reigns over it, its sounds came from nowhere to blast you not with their “loudness” on the contrary w/ their well crafted atmosphere that sometimes sound like a hiss, or others like scratches or whatever, or the bizarre moods created upon listening to Matt (?) playing his trumpet’s keys while Ruth (?) (or vice versa) makes such a lowercase hissing trumpet sound that you find yourself yelling out of pleasure. This is a recording that really is of those cases that I say “I’m in love” with & of those cases where the instruments are used in a way to overcome their own sound and the three of them truly achieve it the outmost way. It’s universe is so unique and amalgamatic that I strongly believe that yourself too upon listening to it will say that this is a “classic” not because of a “classic” like sounding but due to the actual term of the word, as it doesn’t have an “expiry date” on it as many other “products” of nowadays have… allow me then to say A MASTERPIECE!
Nicolas Malevitsis, Absurd
Dois trompetes e um acordeão são utilizados neste disco que junta o inglês Matt Davis, a catalã Ruth Barberán e o português radicado em Barcelona Alfredo Costa Monteiro. Dificilmente, no entanto, concluímos que se trata efectivamente desses instrumentos, pois os três músicos concentram-se na sonoridade do ar – o ar do sopro nos trompetes antes que qualquer nota seja tocada (o que não impede que, por vezes, toquem, mas apenas por vezes) e o ar dos foles do acordeão, sem que se pressione alguma tecla (no caso de Monteiro, é muito mais raro que ele o faça). E eis aqui mais um exemplo da impossibilidade de identificar uma música minimal (que não minimalista) com estas características como mais um produto da corrente a que se vai chamando de “micro-improvisação”. O propósito de «Ura» não é seduzir o silêncio mas construir um outro mapeamento dos sons instrumentais, enquadrados a nível do detalhe. A atitude é radical, mas absolutamente nada gratuita. Antes pelo contrário, o enfoque destas peças é tal que, se não fosse a intensidade encadeada, poder-se-ia falar de um certo cerebralismo a propósito deste tipo de abordagem. Mas como tudo aqui palpita de vida e sensitividade, utilizar tal palavra não faria sentido, pois os nervos depressa substituem a mente.
Rui Eduardo Paes, JL
[…] There’s another connection here; Assumed Possibilities’ cellist Mark Wastell and harpist Rhodri Davies frequently collaborate with trumpeter Matt Davis (in Broken Consort, and there’s also an Erstwhile release in the pipeline with Phil Durrant), and Davis is one of two trumpeters featured in I Treni Inerti, the other being Ruth Barberán. The third member of the group, Alfredo Costa Monteiro, plays accordion, but if you think a two trumpet / accordion line-up sounds like a recipe for some knees up TexMex, you’d damn well better think again: «Ura», recorded and mixed along the coast in Barcelona in July 2002, is one of the most challenging and austere explorations of extended techniques since Davis’ own extraordinary solo outing Mute Correspondences CDR on Confront a while back (now completely unobtainable.. reissues anyone?). The trio’s unswerving dedication to charting the nether regions of their instruments’ potential as sound sources is such that «normal» trumpet and accordion sounds, on the rare occasions they actually appear (there’s a killer moment at 9’43» in «Osso»), sound as otherworldly and alarming as a blast of Merzbow might in the middle of a Mozart slow movement. Of course, strange new sounds for their own sake don’t make for good music, a fact that Barberán, Davis and Monteiro are well aware of. Each of the four pieces on offer here is as structurally solid as the metal gantry depicted on the album cover. Ura is certainly not something you’d want to put on the beatbox to accompany your barbecue, but there’s certainly just as much meat to get your teeth into here. Strongly recommended.
Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic
Diventa sempre più difficile continuare a descrivere certe esperienze improvvisative di tipo radicale che poco concedono ad ogni tipo di compromesso, ma che, al contrario, sembrano voler mantenersi fedeli ad una linea di totale ricerca timbrica, più che fondare le basi di un nuovo linguaggio. L’etichetta portoghese Creative Sources sembra voler continuare a percorrere questa strada senza (per ora) il benché minimo ripensamento. Il trio I treni inerti, ovvero un duo di trombettisti, Matt Davis e Ruth Berberán, che si accompagnano al fisarmonicista Alfredo Costa Monteiro, si tiene ben distante dall’immagine sonora che strumenti come questi potrebbero evocare. Si tratta, in poche parole, del consueto omaggio all’approccio più materico e informale (ma soprattutto freddo) che ormai attraversa la quasi totalità delle esperienze improvvisative mondiali. Un rimpianto lo lascia senz’altro l’idea che tra le esperienze passate, la «linea» che si è imposta è proprio quella anglo-tedesca, a scapito di quella olandese, più vivace, ma soprattutto più umana.
Michele Coralli, Altremusiche
It seems that the merits of what has been dubbed the “reductionist”, “lowercase”, “non-idiomatic” or even “quiet” current in early 2000s free improvisation will be debated over for a while, but what we can agree on is that its activists have fostered a newborn research in soundmaking with acoustic instruments that led to a redefinition of an instrument’s palette. Often the resulting sounds bears little to no resemblance with anything conceived as “traditional music” related to that instrument. Detractors often point out that since instrumentalists end up with a sonic substrate that is similar to and mistakable with all other acoustic instruments, why bother. But «Ura» is filled with strange, audacious and utterly puzzling sounds arranged in a way that lets them resound side by side and lets you weight and compare them to your ears’ database. I Treni Inerti is an Italian palindrome (a word that reads the same from beginning to end and end to beginning) meaning «The Inert Trains». One can hardly think of a better name for this group. The image of a static machine fits the picture painted by the two trumpets of Matt Davis and Ruth Barberán, and the accordion of Alfredo Costa Monteiro. The trumpet has been at the core of the reductionist movement, thanks to Franz Hauzinger and Axel Dörner (and horns in general played a key role in the development of this new language) so by now we are accustomed to the sound of clickety keys and breath in brass, but how to approach it from the accordion’s perspective was (and remains!) a mystery. Except for a short passage in “Ara” where a single note is stuttered, no sound can be associated to the instrument. What is Monteiro doing? Is it him scratching the metal grid? Playing the keys with the bellows completely closed? Tapping and rubbing the body of the instrument with his fingers? Listening to «Ura» is not guaranteed to answer any questions. In fact, more pop up every time.
François Couture, AMG
I Treni Inerti è l’ultimo gruppo entrato nell’orbita dell’ottima Creative Sources, etichetta portoghese creata da Ernesto Rodrigues; sono in tre e rispondono al nome di Matt Davis (trumpet), Ruth Barberán (trumpet) e Alfredo Costa Monteiro (accordion). La loro è una musica improvvisata e concreta, dura e ruvida che si spinge indietro nel tempo fino a ridursi a suono primitivo, al tempo stesso arrivo e nuovo punto di partenza. Una circolarità, quella della loro musica, suggerita anche dalle parole palindrome usate per i titoli. E’ un suono che abbiamo imparato a conoscere grazie ai lavori dei due Nmperign, Rhaney e Kelly; al pari della loro, le sonorità di «Ura» sono un rincorrersi di note sottili e sbuffanti, di brusii microtonali e di sospiri rauchi, di lunghi silenzi e urla strozzate in gola. Le istanze jazz sono annullate; quando si cerca (o forse ci arrivano per sbaglio) un approdo alla melodicità, il massimo che possono fare è liberare dalle loro trombe un suono simile a quello delle sirene di una nave o spingere l’accordion nel tentativo di suonare arie folk trasfigurate e ormai dimenticate dal tempo. Un disco ostico ma anche affascinante e coinvolgente, consigliatissimo a chi ha già frequentato questi territori ma, una volta tanto, anche ai neofiti (da qualche parte dovranno pur iniziare). Alfredo Rastelli, Kathodik
Oh no, you’re saying, not another trumpet/trumpet/accordion improvising trio! Well, yes, and the results are quite positive. Not unexpectedly, Matt Davis and Ruth Barberán (trumpets) and Alfredo Costa Monteiro (accordion) don’t often produce sounds normally associated with their respective instruments but they do fashion a knotty, consistently absorbing soundscape full of clattering keys, breath tones, buzzes and clicks and devote enough attention to contrasting slivers of noise to make this a very rewarding outing. In fact, it’s regrettable to even feel obliged to announce this or that relatively unique instrumental grouping as it becomes increasingly beside the point as this area of music progresses. Yes, you’ll hear certain sounds, combinations of timbres, potential attacks that are new and or innovative, but with the plethora of musicians, wielding every conceivable instrument or variation thereof, does it really matter? It still comes back to the concept and/or inherent musicality of the persons involved and that’s where, happily, the joy and excitement is to be found herein. Barberán (I believe from Barcelona) and Monteiro from Portugal are fine examples of the recent upsurge in activity from that neck of the woods and each display finely attuned and wide-ranging sensitivity, the latter feeling free to occasionally introduce recognizably accordion-esque notes when they serve a purpose but also proving proficient in the art of strangled wheezes and the percussive capabilities of his squeezebox. It’s finally about creating a convincing aural space, something that sounds entirely natural and unforced, as though the listener had entered a room where such noises and notes were an organic outgrowth of the environment. I Treni Inerti (“Motionless Trains”, if I’m freely translating from the Italian properly) accomplish this with grace and imagination.
Brian Olewnick, Bagatellen
British trumpeter Matt Davis has been less visible in recent years than Germany’s Axel Dörner and America’s Greg Kelley, but his contribution to the world of extended trumpet technique is just as deserving of attention, even if his solo CD-R «Mute Correspondences» (Confront) is long out of print. In a letter to The Wire 233, Davis provided some valuable insights into his aesthetic stance, particularly his attitude to expressivity, and «Ura» gives listeners the chance to hear them in practice. The trio I Treni Inerti finds him in the company of second trumpeter Ruth Barberán and accordionist Alfredo Costa Monteiro, both based in Barcelona. Monteiro also deploys his prepared guitar work with Ferran Fages in Cremaster. A certain rough grain to Ura’s sound belies a strong affinity with the electronic medium. As Davis writes in a rather austere manifesto, the music of I Treni Inerti exists in “continuous movement between audible and imperceptible, intimate and shared, silence and presence, stillness and change ? as the palindrome the trio has chosen as its name suggests”. Their painstaking exploration of every potential use of their instruments as sound sources is such that “normal” trumpet and accordion sounds, on the rare occasions they actually appear, come over positively surrealistic. Silence plays a fundamental structural role throughout, a concern for sustained sonority and a density of texture clearly differentiates the resulting music from the “oops you missed it” school of Japanese lowercase Improv. As architecturally rigorous as the metal gantry on the album cover, the music is fragile and delicate without being intimate.
Dan Warburton, The Wire