Alfredo Costa Monteiro


from one coordinate to uncoordination

Another bit of unexpectedness as we find old favorites Lali Barrière and Alfredo Costa Monteiro wielding synthesizers instead of trumpets, accordions, turntables, paper, etc.

The work is a continuous drone of sorts, complex but essentially tonal. Its path is unbroken. The amplitude fluctuates somewhat but more importantly, the texture and timbre varies a good deal, perhaps charting a course from the more purely synth-sounding to an area more in the organ neck of the woods, again out into the electronic ether, back and forth over its 73 minutes. By the nature of the sounds employed, there’s a lot of microtonal activity–portions are reminiscent of Partch’s Chromolodeon. I guess Eliane Radigue’s electronic works would also be a reference point. Beyond that, it’s hard to say too much. It’s significant insofar as it is, at least to the extent I know the prior work of Barrière and Costa Monteiro (much less of the former than the latter) such a departure from earlier work. The music is perfectly enjoyable, much fun to up the volume and wallow within. I can imagine experiencing it live and getting reasonably lost. I can’t say that, essentially, it stands out from similar work, although one respects the perseverance involved and, I’m guessing, the depth of layering that I may be able to only partially distinguish. It didn’t knock me out but it sits reasonably well on its own and, as said, forms an intriguing addition to the canon of each musician. Curious if there’s a follow up or expansion. [Checking, I see this soundcloud file, under Barrière’s name, titled «Blaast 1», which is in the same ballpark; I assume there’s more I’ve missed.]

Brian Olewnick, Just Outside


Here we have two new releases on Mathieu Ruhlmann’s Caduc label, which offers nice printed covers and in general music that arrives from the world of electronic and improvised music, usually a combination of both. Blaast is a duo of for me unknown Lali Barriere and the very well known Alfredo Costa Monteiro. They both get a credit for playing synthesizer and that this piece was recorded 10th of August, last year. Like said, I have no idea who Barriere is and how that is of any influence on Monteiro. The work here at hand is very long, seventy-three minutes and it spans one piece of drone like electronics. It doesn’t stay however in one place as it moves through various parts and sections here, from mid to low range. First time round I fell asleep while I was playing this – the usual afternoon nap, no doubt, but the music itself works very nicely in that. While I was napping, I wasn’t completely gone, but somewhere far away I heard this playing and my mind moved along this excellent piece of drone music. There are no sudden moves or uproars, massive moving along to another place, but in general an excellent organ-like sound that moves the listener through a whole set of dreamy environments. From the more experimental inclined musician, this is not something I expected. This piece left me pleasantly surprised.

Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly


Here, we have another fine release from Mathieu Ruhlmann’s Caduc label, this time a duo of Lali Barrière and Alfredo Costa Monteiro. I previously enjoyed Ruhlmann’s Concert For Charles Cros with Lance Austin Olsen and Daniel Jones on Caduc. Monteiro I know from his project Atolón with Ruth Barberán and Ferran Fages, whose excellent 2013 album Concret I reviewed here: He also works with Fages under the name Cremaster, with Barberán under the name i treni inerti, (literally translated; Inert Trains), and in duos with Pascal Battus and Tim Olive as well as solo. Lali Barrière is a Barcelona-based musician who has also worked with Ruth Barberán and Ferran Fages, along with many other notable improvisers such as Tom Chant, Xavier Lopez, Tom Soloveitzik, Dafne Vicente-Sandoval and Artur Vidal and sound artist Nuno Rebelo. She teaches mathematics as a Professor at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and also creative music. The scene in Barcelona seems to be particularly close-knit; Ferran Fages mastered from one coordinate to uncoordination. Monteiro produced the sleeve artwork himself.
The work itself is one piece of deep, expansive music based around unhurried movement and tonal interplay, performed on two synthesisers over a good, long duration of 73 minutes. Actually, as an admirer of long-duration improvisation, I could happily listen to much more than that; this is great stuff – immersive, subtle and enigmatic. In fact, when on the first listen, as the music finished, I immediately pressed play again and listened to the whole thing straight through for a second time. Demonstrating considerable restraint and purity of intention, from one coordinate to uncoordination keeps a fairly uniform dynamic until about halfway where Barrière and Costa Monteiro break it down into gossamer components. All the way they maintain a linearity in their interplay. Later, at 50 minutes, both synthesisers take on the timbre of church organs as if heard from outside; filtered by the stone walls of a church.
I am aware that there has been a recent resurgence of interest in all things analogue in the world of synthesis, and it is not stated on the sleeve whether the equipment being used here is digital or analogue, (however there is a video of BLAAST in performance and it looks like they are using modern desktop synthesisers, but it’s too dark to make out much more than that). Purists may (and probably will) argue over this until the cows come home, but I don’t really think about it either way – the music speaks for itself and, could feasibly be adapted for different instrumentation. Furthermore, those familiar with either of the musician’s previous output may be surprised to hear synthesisers used at all. Both Monteiro and Barrière are normally firmly ensconced in the EAI area of music making with acoustic instruments, unconventional strategies, extended technique and so forth. Displaying steady development, from one coordinate to uncoordination avoids stagnation or unnecessary busyness. I had an emotional response to it at once, hence my urge to listen through it again straightaway.
Again with Caduc, the production values on the disc are high – full colour professional printing on a heavy card stock fold-over sleeve, with the thoughtful addition of a bookmark included.

Paul Khimasia Morgan, Honest Music For Dishonest Times.