Alfredo Costa Monteiro


live at audiograft

An unruly, nodose nugget of sound from our old friends Alfredo Costa- Monteiro (electroacoustic devices) and Ferran Fages (feedback, mixing board, electroacoustic devices) in this set from just over three months ago as I write. Ungainly too, very tough to get one’s ears around, the sounds veering between keens and deep thuds, often at the same time, giving one only the merest glimpses of any «true» form, like shapes seen in flashes of light. I’ve gone back and forth over the course of the half dozen listens I’ve given it (it’s only 26 1/2 minutes long), often discovering new elements or relationships between same that tend to «cement» a given section for me even as another adjacent one might crumble. Kind of fascinating, that. It’s certainly a rough go, though in a purely sonic sense, not as harsh as your average balloon and needle release, say; there’s more of a molded feel here, with a very rich range of sources. That mght be the thing, that it steers one toward certain expectations as to how the whole will somehow come into focus but it never quite does. It comes this close to degenerating into a random enough conglomeration to cause the throwing up of hands, but never quite does that either. That, in the last five or six minutes, things begin to jell, erm, «traditionally», only reinforces the gnarliness of the first 20 minutes. It’s all quite frustrating!

I guess that means it’s pretty good work, causing this listener to think a fair amount and to doubt his thoughts.

Brian Olewnick, Just Outside


Tonight’s CD is another recent release on the Consumer Waste label by the Barcelona based duo Cremaster, who are Alfredo Costa Monteiro and Ferran Fages. This disc, titled Live at Audiograft includes a single twenty-six minute live set recorded at said festival in Oxford just three months ago. I should probably add here that while I helped out with bits and pieces of Audiograft I had no input into this particular concert and have no connection to this release at all. So no caveats this time then besides the fact that its great to have another CD here that was recorded in the city just up the road from here. Just a few years back I would have laughed at the suggestion that Cremaster might have even played a gig in Oxford let alone a CD be released of the show. These things come in waves and in a couple of years Oxford may be a dry well again but for now it continues to thrive, primarily thanks to the Brookes University departments that both attract interesting people and funded and organised Audiograft.

So as my brief report of Alfredo and Ferran’s set back in March suggested, this was a bit of a loud, abrasive affair. Costa Monteiro uses ‘electroacoustic devices’ here which I think mostly involved springs with contact mics attached and other similarly tactile yet amplified small objects. Fages used a feedback mixer as well s similar small items, with, if I remember correctly a walkie talkie put to use at one stage. If on the night the performance felt very loud, it is tempered nicely here by Samuel Rodgers’ recording and mastering, so the vibrancy and energy remains but not ear shatteringly so. On the day the music felt loud and raw but I remarked that although noisy a strong sense of composition remained- the music feeling like it had purpose and shape rather than just being a wanton display of searing adrenalin. That certainly remains my thought on it now. There are slightly better Cremaster discs out there in my opinion, and there are also noisier as well, but this is still a very fine example of how the duo manage to harness raw energy and shape it around one another to create music that feels at once both lo-fi and highly evolved. These two musicians have played together frequently for a very long time now. They seem to almost think for one another when they improvise, and the music’s feel of structure and togetherness feeds out of this.

I’m not sure what else there is for me to say. Live at Audiograft is crunchy, brittle, bright, wailing, nervous and confident all at once. If you like Cremaster, or if you like your electroacoustic improvisation on the more viscous side then I can recommend this CD to you. It never quite gets out of control, but then never quite feels tame either. The sounds used are wild and often the result of simple physics based processes but they also feel under control, hemmed in, contained, but still fighting and wrestling on the inside. A short disc, but with just enough to get your teeth firmly into.

Richard Pinnell, The Watchfull Ear


Live at Audiograft is a recording from a performance by Ferran Fages and Alfredo Costa Monteiro, who collectively devastate audiences as Cremaster. Though neither Fages nor Monteiro have been formally appointed the title of “sonic vigilante,” their respective backlogs and overall approach to sound couldn’t be further from well-mannered. In dipping into a small portion of these backlogs, I get the overwhelming sense that these two are out to break musical bounds, with each new project attacked full-heartedly and from a different angle than the last.

I can’t speak for past Cremaster work, but the recent Fages solo outing, For Pau Torres, saw him pare down to little more than guitar feedback for an hour. Fages’ deliberate use of constraint saw the album teeter the line between brilliance and yawn-inducing, but falling toward the former. What is perhaps most amazing is how thin that line got, and can get with ambitious works of minimalism like For Pau Torres that rely on dissonance, texture and extended tonality to communicate things like form, meaning, emotion and artistic intent.

Cremaster’s music relies on similar principles, though it sounds as if Monteiro and Fages were working with a rather rich palette of electro-acoustic devices on the night of this performance. Since an electro-acoustic device is basically anything that converts electricity to sound or vice versa, it could be any of a number of things these two were wrestling with. Wrestling might be the ideal word, because underneath the dizzying noise bursts of squelching mixer feedback and spidery electronics there remains a sense of physical movement behind the sound, as if objects and contact mics played a significant part; one doesn’t arrive at music like this from the turning of mixing knobs alone.

Not only the physicality behind the sounds, but the shear breadth of the music translates quite exceptionally onto disc, and this is in no small part due to the mastering job of Samuel Rodgers. Recordings of live shows don’t often stack up to the real thing, but Live at Audiograft, with its blistering frequencies and world of howling electronics, has me as in-the-moment as ever.

Adrian Dziewanski, Dusted Reviews


Ce live at audiograft est le troisième disque en date du duo Cremaster, un duo composé de deux musiciens bien connus par les lecteurs de ce blog, Alfredo Costa Monteiro (dispositifs électroacoustiques) et Ferran Fages (dispositifs électroacoustiques, larsens et table de mixage). Un duo qui aime les parasites électriques, les sons corrosifs ou abrasifs, les larsens incessants, et autres textures bruitistes et abstraites. Pour ce court enregistrement live de 26 minutes, les deux plasticiens sonores nous délivrent une palette de sons hétéroclites qui s’embrassent et s’entremêlent constamment, boucles analogiques, court-circuits, et larsens forment des textures qui s’agencent avec sensibilité dans une construction improbable de sonorités électriques.

Une unique pièce plutôt courte en effet, mais qui n’en est pas moins intense et riche. Les textures sont riches, originales, les variations d’intensités nombreuses. A leur manière, Cremaster explore le son également et construit un environnement musical principalement axé sur le timbre et l’exploration sonique électroacoustique cette fois. L’art de sculpter des informations électriques avec une perception musicale du courant et du son, l’art de peindre de magnifiques tableaux avec ce que l’on considère comme des parasites sonores comme le souffle ou le larsen. Une musique surprenante, jouissive, riche, où les textures sont agencées avec précision dans une attention constante à chaque intervention de l’un comme de l’autre membre du duo.

En un peu plus de vingt-cinq minutes, FF et ACM nous délivrent une pièce riche de couleurs et très intense, construite et structurée de manière à immerger l’auditeur de manière intensive. Une plongée immersive dans des courants électroacoustiques abrasifs et parasitaires, mais aussi sensiblement musicaux et savamment structurés. Un enregistrement qui ne cesse de surprendre pour ces couleurs sonores organiques et physiques, ingénieusement et hautement créatif et inventif. Recommandé.

Julien Héraud, Improv Sphère