Alfredo Costa Monteiro



… they present their second work together, following their 2008 release ‘Ductile’ (see Vital Weekly 618). In 2010 they worked Q-O2 in Brussels on new music with basically the same set-up: Pascal Battus on rotating surfaces and Alfredo Costa Monteiro on amplified paper. While ‘Ductile’ was at times pretty loud, this new release explores the edges of the material more in depth, while at times maintaining the same forceful level, but as before on a Merzbow kind of level. Its hard to believe but with these relatively simple means they create some great music. Densely orchestrated with sounds rotating, surfaces being scanned with microphones, the rustling of all sorts of paper make that the whole thing is a great disc of improvised music that hardly sounds improvised. More composed actually, more sculpted perhaps. Its beyond the regular world of improvisation, as its beyond regular instruments, but also hardly rooted in the world of electronics, analogue or digital. With the choice of their means they do something that hardly part of any tradition. They have a rather unique sound language of their own. Great, yet again, no easy listening music.

Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly


The answer to the failing Greek economy seems to be to move it to Oxford, UK, if Kostis Kilymis’ Organised Music from Thessaloniki label is anything to go by. In the last year since Kostis arrived around here his label has issued a fair number of releases, with two more having been pushed into my grubby hands a couple of weeks back, one of which is Fêlure, the second disc on the label by the duo of Pascal Battus and Alfredo Costa Monteiro, following on from Ductile, which was released four years ago now. Fêlure’s credits list Pascal Battus as performing with rotating surfaces, which I think are at least partly made up of the mechanical parts of old persona cassette players, though I could be wrong. Costa Monteiro is then credited with amplified paper. And some people wonder why our music seems odd and inaccessible to wider audiences… So yes, I know Kostis well and have released music from both of the musicians over recent years, so, caveats etc…

The most remarkable thing about Fêlure is how on earth the musicians produce the sounds they do with the tools they have. While I guess rotating surfaces could sound like pretty much anything, nothing, absolutely nothing here sounds like it has anything to do with paper. The sound world the pair create is on one hand quite refined- living in an area of closely miked ,if not contact miked abstraction, all rubbing sounds and earthy growls, but on the other hand there is quite a broad range within these brackets, and while we don’t get anything tonal, or particularly pretty, there is a lot of variety in there. The music for the most part has quite a dramatic, often almost frightening feel to it. Sounds tend to build into cavernous collections of wails and vibrating growls, all improvised and built in unison with one another yet also offering a sensation of composed overarching structure. Turned up really loud the four tracks here each have quite a bite to them, and yet this doesn’t sound like noise music or even really how the louder end of electroacoustic improvisation often ends up sounding. There is something strangely cinematic here, albeit of the horror variety, an insistence and relentlessness that feels somehow foreboding. One other sensation I am put in mind of is being underwater, something I personally try and avoid at all costs, and so maybe the feeling of horror and perhaps ensuing danger comes from this for me, but in places, and during the opening minutes of the first track in particular, there is an oddly murky, cloudy feel to everything, and a strangely warped sensation of sound trying to pass through heavy water.

All in all, this is a nice album put together with refreshingly unusual sounds that combine well to make music that at once both grab the attention, threaten you a little, and only later do you stop and wonder how exactly they were made. Another in quite a stream of interesting new releases involving Costa Monteiro, and perhaps up there with the recent i treni inerti album as my favourite amongst them all. Available from Organised Music from Thessaloniki.

Richard Pinnell, The Watchful Ear


Fêlure est le deuxième opus de cette grande collaboration entre deux infatigables explorateurs sonores. Je n’avais pas écouté leur première, Ductile, où chacun explorait du papier amplifié. Pour ce nouvel enregistrement, Alfredo Costa Monteiro persiste avec cet outil sonore, tandis que Pascal Battus retourne à ses surfaces rotatives.

Deux matières sonores se croisent, s’opposent et se mélangent parfois. Des matières frottées par des ustensiles quotidiens à l’aide de moteurs, et du papier que l’on peine à reconnaître. Les textures du duo sont inimaginables et ne ressemblent à rien de ce à quoi l’on pourrait s’attendre. Pourtant, étonnamment, des sons rappellent des éléments connus parfois, des sortes de souffles, des hululements, une voix humaine, du vent, parfois même un cuivre ou un saxophone. Les timbres sont extrêmement singuliers, souvent abrasifs et granuleux, mais toujours produits avec une attention, une précision et une sensibilité hors du commun. Durant quatre pièces, Battus et Monteiro sculptent dans des matières non-musicales des textures poétiques, aériennes, et inattendues, et tout ceci à base de friction, de frottement, et de grattement.

Quatre pièces exemptes de pulsations – hormis celle produite par la vitesse de circulation des surfaces de Battus. Quatre pièces où le temps est lisse et étiré, hors du monde, à l’image des timbres de ces sculptures sonores. Battus et Monteiro, en étirant le temps et en produisant des textures incroyables à partir de matériaux incongrus, créent un monde imaginaire, un territoire sonore inouï et fantastique, merveilleux et poétique. Quarante minutes d’exploration méthodique et sensible en-dehors de toute attente et de tout langage préétabli, fêlure entre deux univers sonores certes, mais également et surtout fêlure entre la beauté de cette musique et ce qu’on pourrait en attendre. Quatre explorations soniques profondes, immersives, sensibles et inattendues. Recommandé.

Julien Héraud, Improv Sphère


The first definition of fêlure I came across was «crack» but a subtler one is «a soulful tremor». Nice. The first of four tracks here indeed evokes something of the sort, Battus’ «rotating surfaces» and Costa Monteiro’s amplified paper summoning up a windswept, barren landscape wherein it’s not difficult to ascribe the soft moans heard as issuing from some forlorn creature. The storm soon kicks up however, and we’re into a dry, howling vortex. Dryness is an operative word here and in a good sense. Whatever the rotating surfaces employed, they sound smooth but unoiled, bearing a certain amount of grain, set up against the almost necessarily sere sounds of paper being manipulated in who-knows-what manner. It’s a winning combination, managing to create a sound world that’s sandy and arid but clear and bracing at the same time. It can get relentless in a way that pure noise fans will appreciate but the subtlety is never lost, the detail always precise. But it can also wander down a more contemplative trail, as in the final cut, abuzz and grinding, but in small circles and curlicues, spitting the occasional spark but in well-considered bursts. Very strong concluding piece, beautifully drawn, and a solid album overall.

Brian Olewnick, Just Outside


The second interaction of improvisers and artists Pascal Battus and Alfredo Costa Monteiro, ‘Fêlure’ represents a high concept drone record masquerading as sound art and esoteric free improvisation. If the roles assigned in the liner notes can be taken seriously, the duo coax a startling array of timbral variation from the extreme limitations of performing solely utilising ‘rotating surfaces’ and ‘amplified paper’. Having the affect of the pieces hinge on the absurdist proposition of collaborating across such elements risks overwhelming the processes actually at work. Yet the sub bass groans, undulating textures and focused sense of physicality reflected in, but also surpassing, the conceptual practices, ensures that this is not the case. The work here is precise and detail-oriented, concerned with amassing minor alterations and recording direct physical relations in performance; no processing or editing, instead amplifying friction and reaction to create something rich and and almost palpable. The harsh contrasts and toneless drones, like the amplification of vast and shifting tectonic plates, capture movement and conflict within a transparent and direct improvisatory method.

Yet, conceptualising the bizarre pieces amid traditions of analogue noise, with industrial affectations, is still the most satisfying. Within this context the record is a great success; dynamic non-music, abrasive (almost literally), stark and disorienting. Whilst alongside this, ‘Fêlure’ remains an interesting piece of pure abstraction at the limits of European improvisation, extending the subtle and often maddening techniques of groups such as AMM to transmit tactile, amelodic sound without preconceptions or expectations; certainly indicative of how best to approach the sessions.

For constructing this riotous piece of performance and experimentation, equal parts meticulous and ridiculous, framing what essentially becomes a bewildering drone record and as fascinating improvisers, the duo, and these nonsensical pieces particularly, deserves recognition.

Chris Trowell, Foxy Digitalis