int004 | Atolón | Concret

Atolón (Alfredo Costa Monteiro, Ferran Fages & Ruth Barberán)


CD, digisleeve, insert / edition of 250
26 November 2012

SOLD OUT at Intonema

Concret - не только четвёртый релиз Intonema, но и долгожданный четвертый релиз испанского трио Atolón, записанный в Барселоне в январе 2011-го года Саймоном Рейнеллом, директором английского лейбла Another Timbre. Альфредо Коста Монтейро (аккордеон, объекты), Ферран Фажес (акустический виниловый проигрыватель, объекты) и Рут Барберян (труба, объекты) используют свои инструменты нетипичным образом: препарируют, играют на их поверхностях, стучат по ним и придумывают массу других способов звукоизвлечения. Несмотря на эти немузыкальные звуки, трио придерживается почти мелодического мотива, проходящего через весь альбом.

Concret is not only 4th release of Intonema but also it's the long-awaited 4th release of the Spanish trio Atolón that was recorded in January, 2011 by Simon Reynell, director of English label Another Timbre. Alfredo Costa Monteiro (acсordion, objects), Ferran Fages (acoustic turntable, objects) and Ruth Barberán (trumpet, objects) are using their instruments by unusual way: they are preparing them, playing on their surfaces, knocking and inventing a lot of other ways for sound making. Despite of these non-musical sounds, the trio is following almost melodic motive all through the piece.

Ferran Fages: acoustic turntable, objects
Ruth Barberán: trumpet, objects
Alfredo Costa Monteiro: accordion, objects

Рецензии / Reviews:
"Recorded by Simon Reynell who is perhaps more widely known as the man behind the UK’s Another Timbre label. A sound recordist by trade, I believe he is also responsible for engineering most if not all the live recordings released on his excellent Sheffield-based imprint. Concret is a very fluid 34 minute improvisation by Ruth Barberán, Ferran Fages and Alfredo Costa Monteiro. I’m interested to see Ferran Fages’ name here as I have very much enjoyed his solo guitar improvisations and his collaborations with the zither player Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga under the name Ap’strophe.

The linear sleeve design by Alfredo Costa Monteiro is carried on to the front of the disc itself (and on a loose card insert), and in a way reminds me of the work of Savage Pencil’s work for vinyl, particularly the scraffito style design he did on the surface of the b-side of Lee Ranaldo’s solo lp From Here To Infinity… In fact the gatefold sleeve itself is nicely designed; a die cut, stylised man on the interior fold and the subdued palette of the two-colour printing process; the whole package finished in its own tailor-made resealable transparent polythene sleeve.

The music on Concret is very low-key. Barberan, Fages and Monteiro are in no hurry, but you get the sense that no amount of time or indeed hard disk space (I was going to say “tape”) is wasted either.

But this is no back-slapping, self-congratulatory exercise in ego-hugging. Nor is it hesitant or sloppily experimental – every technique used is a well-honed skill presented with the appropriate level of mastery. Furthermore, I can honestly say this is one of the most stripped down and astringent expressions of emotion I’ve ever heard in the electro-acoustic improv canon. This trio spit out their bile in one bitter amorphous lump; their quivering, caustic version of improvisation threatening to eat a hole in the floor.

Like many of the current investigative sound-makers whose names I could invoke to offer some sort of context (Lee Patterson, Jason Kahn, Choi Joonyong, Burkhard Beins) as a group, ATOLÓN determine to ruthlessly prise every last unlikely sound and utterance from their respective choice of instrumentation. Dynamically, the single 34 minute piece covers a lot of ground; each instrument is allowed to take precedent in turn, and the feeling of a tight live unit performing at the edges of their abilities is almost tangible. Around the halfway point, they have reduced their playing almost to the minimal/automatic nature of a Max Eastley wind sculpture, momentarily; and then an unsuspected crescendo of juddering, distressed, slowly fracturing incandescence for the listener to come to terms with. And like all the best examples of eai, it demands your full attention. Not for the faint-hearted or listeners new to this kind of music, perhaps, but if given the level of concentration it deserves, guaranteed to deliver the goods.
Mixed and mastered by Ferran Fages, and mastered by Ilia Belorukov (of grindcore experimentalists Wozzeck, interestingly) and Mikhail Ershov released in unknown quantity but judging from the type and quality of the package, there can’t be huge numbers of this item around so I’d hurry to obtain a copy if I were you."

(Paul Khimasia Morgan, The Sound Projector)

"Ce Concret, enregistré le 15 janvier 2011, trouve d’abord ses marques en deux notes d’accordéon. Lentes à renier leur origine, celles-ci font face aux plaintes d’objets rayés et à quelques grincements. Au mitan de l’enregistrement long de vingt-cing minutes, le trio commence à intéresser : une trompette tremblante attire à elle des morceaux de ferraille que l’on traîne et dont on entend jusqu’à la rouille. L’accordéon peut conclure."
(Guillaume Belhomme, Le Son Du Grisli)

"No matter how altered the tones of acoustic instruments become with extended techniques, pairing them with those produced by electronics and so-called objects results in a stand-off that can be beguiling or distasteful. Luckily both the improvising trios here are sophisticated enough in handling the material(s) that avoidance is never an option. Uniquely constituted, each also approaches the language of improvisation in a highly novel fashion.

Concret, for instance, consists of a single track by long-time Catalan trio Atolón. One of the perhaps dozen CDs in which the three participate in various combinations, the acoustic instrument here is the trumpet of Ruth Barberán. Considering that she was a member of improvisers’ collective IBA as long ago as 1999, her playing evidentially has no Jazz roots. Another former IBA affiliate, Ferran Fages, who plays acoustic turntable and objects on the CD, has also worked with a variety of electronically-oriented fellow travelers, most notably the duo Cremaster with Portuguese-born accordionist Alfredo Costa Monteiro. Now Barcelona-based like the others, Costa Monteiro’s squeeze box abilities are expansive, but never neglect to refer to the instrument’s history as a keyboard-and-bellows music-maker.

Distinctively, the keyboard on White Smoke is the EMS synthesizer played by Willy Van Buggenhout who has been playing Free Music for years but never recorded before this disc. The percussion, objects and toys are from another Flemish musician, Mike Goyvaerts, who has also recorded with the Belgium-German Canaries on the Pole combo and worked with pianist Fred Van Hove. Adding to the acoustic interface are the soprano and tenor saxophones of Jeffrey Morgan, a Köln-based American, whose varied career has seen him paired with British expatriate drummer Paul Lytton as well legendary American saxophonist Bert Wilson.

With a lineage that goes back to the original stirrings of Free Jazz in the U.S. and Europe, the members of White Smoke segment their improvisations into nine tracks. Additionally, despite Van Buggenhout’s command of slurred signal processing and other electro-oriented vibrations plus Goyvaerts ability to press objects and toys into the service of sound making, the trio never loses sight of acoustic improvisation. From the get-go, for every extended other-worldly quiver or video-game-like explosion produced by the EMS, sturdy rolls, drags plus rattles are exposed by the percussionist, with a solid, straightforward beat. Working the territory between the electro-acoustic extremes, Morgan’s sometimes disconnected, and mostly sharp altissimo bites insinuate themselves among the others’ pauses. 

At junctures as well, Morgan’s corkscrew trills or kazoo-like split tones are met by novel percussion extensions that appear to come from rippling thunder sheets, shaking a bell tree or squeaking plush toys on Goyvaerts’ part, although the Belgian still manages to maintain a connective pitter-patter. Additionally the keyboardist’s watery burbles and measured drone provide another ostinato linkage. Meantime Goyvaerts and Van Buggenhout face off on “The Dawn and the Dream” and “Burial Grounds”. Microtonal shimmies, ratcheting loops and signal-processed gongs make circuitous connections with steel drum like whaps and tremolo hand drumming on the former; while EMS groans and murmurs plus percussion rumbles and pops serve as the chorus behind Morgan’s thin altissimo shrilling.

Showpiece of the session is the more-than-11-minute “Wings and Arrows”. Mulching each instrument’s properties into a sympathetic narrative, Van Buggenhout uncoils his processed signals so that they resemble the nuanced keyboard pressing and clipping of an accordion, while Goyvaerts confines himself to press rolls, pops and hand slaps. Before Van Buggenhout’s pulsating tones and a final cymbal clack announce the ending, Morgan makes the most of his solo, twisting and puffing multiphonics to a defining staccato summation.

True to its title, non-acoustic sounds are more upfront on Concret, with Barberán’s trumpet tones no way as expressive as Morgan’s saxophone forays. Nor are they meant to be. Her role in the exposition is to produce buzzing flat-line tremolos which meander throughout the disc with glacier-like slowness. Not so much an ostinato as an aside, her contributions usually are masked within the slowly evolving sound miasma. At the same time while infrequently upfront, any hard and/or harsh percussion-like abrasions on Fages’ part are correspondingly reduced to faint judders. Overall, although at points the interaction is so leisurely that it nears stasis; distinguishing quivers from Costa Monteiro at least confirm the accordion’s presence in the narrative.

Less formal in any compositional fashion, what serves as the CD’s finale is the session’s last variation which blends a leaking electronic drone, nearly motionless capillary actions and squeeze box textures. Concentrated into an intense drone, the aural memory of its qualities hangs in the air after the program is completed.
As long as there are novel sound makers to be experimented with and new ways to play traditional instruments, committed improvisers will be in the forefront of this sonic research. These two trios provide an interim report on some of the results."

(Ken Waxman, Jazz Word)

"The trio of Alfredo Costa Monteiro, Ferran Fages and Ruth Barberán have been making music as a trio on and off for more than a decade now. This is (I think) their fourth album together as a trio, but they have appeared together in quite a few other group formations along the way as well. This new recording was made early in 2011 by Simon Reynell in Barcelona. A further release featuring the Atolón trio alongside the Irish/Swedish quartet ChipShop Music has also just appeared on Reynell’s Another Timbre label. Costa Monteiro and Fages also work together a great deal under their Cremaster moniker, and recent work thy have been involved with has leant more often towards the electronic side of their canon, so in many ways its really nice to reacquaint ourselves with their acoustic playing, as Concret sees Costa Monteiro, Fages and Barberán put to use accordion, acoustic turntable and trumpet to use respectively.

Where Concret really hits the spot for me is through the way the trio work so seamlessly well together. There is in essence, nothing particularly innovative or unusual about the music here. The way the three combine their serrated edges and pockmarked textures is fantastic to wallow in, but it was this way a decade ago also. There is nothing here that is a surprise, no conceptual leaps forward, but like the way that opening a bottle of Chablis from a new vintage brings you familiar flavours and experiences, but with a new depth, so hearing Concret works in a similar way. We know roughly what to expect, but the intensity of the experience grows as the group build on their intimate internal musical relationships. These are three musicians that know each other very well indeed, and know how to push and pull at one another to create vibrant, intimately fascinating music. Let it just drift past your ears and its reasonably pleasing. Delve into it, savour each moment, untangle every knot of combined sounds, and like all well made improvised music its a joy to follow.

So the “acoustic turntable” sees Fages let metallic and other objects rub against a spinning surface. Costa Monteiro’s accordion wheezes and wails but never quite sounds a firm note. Barberán’s trumpet switches from gaseous clouds to brittle vibrations, again without ever sounding much like a trumpet, but the individual voices in here don’t seem to matter, the group come together and work as one seething, constantly morphing mass of twisted musical detritus. There are some nice surprises. the twenty minute mark sees the trio burst into an electrifying wall of vibrant textures- something held firmly and loudly against the spinning turntable, the trumpet wrenching metallic blasts, the accordion laying a heaving wall of wasp-like buzzes behind. Again though its the uniform way that the group come together here that is really inspiring. As if on a signal all three switch direction seamlessly into this fiery assault. Its not a case of one of the trio changing direction and the others following, it all just shifts gear at once. There then, in that section lies the pleasure I find in this disc. Knowing the musicians, knowing their relationships together, then hearing them find musical ways to project those relationships onwards through art is a wonderful thing to follow, a joy to be a part of as a listener. As I write tonight I have a stinking cold, a headache and partly blocked hearing, and yet playing this disc through a few times was still a pleasure."

(Richard Pinnell, The Watchful Ear)  

"Örömteli visszatérés. Nekem is, és valószínűleg nekik is. Ruth Barberán, Ferran Fages és Alfredo Costa Monteiro triójának 2004-es bemutatkozó munkáját, és az egy évre rá megjelent Istmo című albumot annak idején rengeteget hallgattam éjszakánként; valósággal lenyűgözött, amit műveltek, aztán valahogy szem elől tévesztettem az Atolónt. Mintha egyre kevesebbet játszottak volna, és a zenéjük megjelentetésével is felhagytak volna. Idővel ugyanezt éreztem a tagok duóival, a Barberán és Costa Monteiro alkotta I Treni Inertivel, illetve a Cremasterrel, ami Fages és Costa Monteiro kettőse. Tavaly viszont, hosszú szünet után, mindhárom együttes új lemezzel jelentkezett. A Cremaster mindjárt kettővel is.

A Concret a szentpétervári Intonema minilabel negyedik kiadványa, és a második olyan korong, amin zeneileg semmilyen szinten nem működik közre Ilia Belorukov és/vagy Mikhail Ershov, a kiadó két alapítója. A szintén tavaly megjelentetett Ulher-Boubaker duólemezzel az Intonema időközben abszolút nemzetközi szintre emelkedett, katalógusa pedig egyre izgalmasabban alakul. Míg az előző kiadvány felvállalása Ershov döntése volt, az új Atolón album Belorukové. Kitűnő választás, nem vitás. Az Atolón visszatérését pedig csak hangsúlyosabbá teszi, hogy a triónak néhány héten belül egy másik korongja is megjelenik, amit az ír-svéd Chip Shop Music kvartett zenészeivel – Martin Küchen, Paul Vogel, David Lacey és Erik Carlsson – együttműködve rögzítettek. Hát így.

Izgalom ide, nosztalgia oda, a legelemibb kérdés: a közel hét éve kiadott Semisferi című lemez után hogyan, merre alakult a barcelonai trió zenéje. Sajnos vagy sem, ezt még nem döntöttem el: semerre. Hét esztendő nagy idő, ilyenkor szükségszerűen vár valamit az ember. Konceptuális előrelépést, hangzásbeli fejlődést, hangszerpark-bővítést, bármit, akármit, valamit. Barberán, Fages és Costa Monteiro viszont ugyanazt játssza, mint amit durván egy évtizeddel ezelőtt. Trombita, lemezjátszó, tangóharmonika, mindez rengeteg preparátummal, tárgyakkal és persze nem-konvencionális hangszerhasználattal. Zenéjük továbbra is csikorgó, fémes hangzású, hosszan kitartott hangokból épülő akusztikus drone.

Az Atolón a közel tökéletes egyensúly triója (lásd még: △). A triófelállást az egyik legkényesebb összeállításnak gondolom: a lendület mellett nagy hangsúlyt kell kapnia az egyensúlynak, a természetes és egészséges összhangzásnak. Fokozottan igaz, hogy nélkülözhetetlen a mértéktartás, az intelligencia és a zenésztárak alapos ismerete. Ami az Atolónban mindig is felülmúlhatatlan volt, az az, hogy mennyire egyensúlyban van a három hangszeres. Miközben játszanak, egy nagyon keskeny ösvényen haladnak, amiről egyikük sem lép le. Eszményi harmóniában sodródnak, összekapaszkodnak, pontosan érzik, mikor és merre kell lökni-húzni a másikat. Nem a zene sokszínűségén van a hangsúly, éppen ellenkezőleg: az egyneműségen. Hárman – egyek. Ez Barberán, Fages és Costa Monteiro hármasának a zsenialitása, de gyorsan hozzá is tenném: ez volt nyolc-tíz évvel ezelőtt is. A legkevésbé sem hajlandóak változni – és hogy ez jó vagy sem, mondom, még nem tudom.

Bármennyire is ambivalens érzéseim vannak egyelőre a Concret lemezzel kapcsolatban, öröm újra együtt hallani ezeket a zenészeket. Legalább akkora, mint remélhetőleg hamarosan kézbe venni az I Treni Inerti (Barberán és Costa Monteiro) Luz Azul című albumát, illetve a Cremaster (Fages és Costa Monteiro) Live At Audiograft koncertlemezét és az Angharad Davies hegedűssel közösen készített Pluie Fine című munkáját. Ezek mindegyike nemrég jelent meg ugyanis."

(Dusted Hoffman,

"Lågdynamiskt, långsamt, någon kanske säger långtråkigt. Då opponerar jag mig, men det är svårt att verkligen berätta vad som är så bra med det här atavistiska ljudgnisslet.

Jag kan peka på Alfredo Costa Monteiros dronande dragspel. Då jag väl fått öronen på det fylls denna musik med luft och uthållighet. Det svajar och rör sig på ett vis som får fundamentet kännas osäkert. Så kan jag lyssna på hur Ruth Barberáns trumpet slingrar sig runt dragspelet tills jag inte vet vem som är vem. Det är svårt att hålla så här raka toner länge och hålla intresset vid liv.
Barberán eller vem det nu kan vara håller på och bökar och stökar så hon riskerar att gräva ner sig, men där svävar Ferran Fages obehagligt högljudda föremål och hans turntables – akustiska förstås.

När jag väl gått igenom denna svårförklarliga musik, denna amöba av ljud, som delar sig och pumpar sig framåt liksom utan riktning, ja då börjar jag lyssna igen och hör allt som en kropp. Sammanhållet som en omfamning. Våldsamma rörelser smattrar som spasmer genom musikulaturen. Det skär som ångest i öronen. Kanske.

Så lyssnar jag igen och all musikalisk desperation i musik och muskler dunstar, kvar är ett slags fars, där Barberán, Fages, Costa Monteiro snubblar runt som i en cirkusmanege. Jag är inte helt säker på att detta inte är fars. Det surrar och susar i akustiken, Barberán kastar in helt banala uthållna toner, det gungar under fötterna. Jo, nog är det en blandning av dröm och stumfilm.
Till slut tycker jag det är en het, humoristisk, fysisk och lockande musik.

Lågdynamiskt, visst, en kort lyssning kopplar samman med en mängd andra spelare. Kontakt efter kontakt bryts efter en stund.

Kvar sitter dessa musikanter i Barcelona med var sitt akustiskt instrument och låtsas inte att de gör bandmusik eller låter som elektronik. Det är bara en musik som liknar surrealismens uppslitna värld av överraskningar.

Efter en rad skivor den senaste tiden börjar jag tro det är dags att åka till Barcelona och lyssna. Lågdynamiska filialen där har växt till ett huvudkontor. Eller: här finns inte längre några lokala kontor inom denna sorts (vilken sort, förresten?) musik. Etiketter, spelare, scener växlar och spänner över intressanta oväntade platser.
Och slutligen: ännu ett minnesvärt album från några av de intressantaste musikerna just nu, Barberan och Costa Monteiro."

(Thomas Millroth,

"A welcome return from Atolon--Ruth Barberán (trumpet, objects), Ferran Fages (acoustic turntable, objects) and Alfredo Costa Monteiro (accordion, objects). A single, 35 minute performance from a bit over two years ago, it largely dwells in an area full of keening groans, the accordion wheezing, the trumpet emitting low flutters and the acoustic turntable doing whatever it is that hose devices do. Dronish in character, in the sense of long sounds, but within those tones there's great irregularity and the overlaps also follow no perceptible pattern, resulting in a fine, rich shifting-sands feel, with vast amounts of welcome impurities. The steady state occupies the first 20 or so minutes, drifting into a lovely place where one hears flute-like tones, the accordion respiring beneath, at which point there's an eruption, the turntable splintering into extremely sharp shards, howling. It subsides, not without anxiety and pinpricks, resuming the nervous flow, Barberán's steady horn providing the signposts.

Well-structured, solid and forthright in its trek, happy to hear them again."

(Brian Olewnick, Just Outside

"Atolón is a Barcelona trio consisting of Ferran Fages and Alfredo Costa Monteiro—who, as a duo, are known as Cremaster—plus trumpeter Ruth Barberán. The single 35- minute track was recorded at Can Felipa, in Barcelona, in January 2011. Although recorded by Another Timbre proprietor Simon Reynell, the album is actually released on the St. Petersburg-based Intonema, despite Reynell's label previously having released recordings by the three, notably the excellent Lúnula (2009) by Octante, which is Atolón plus Portuguese double bassist Margarida Garcia. Cremaster, Atolón, Octante—are you managing to keep track of these names?

Concret makes an interesting contrast with Pluie Fine (Potlatch, 2012), on which Cremaster collaborated with violinist Angharad Davies. In contrast to the duo, where he focuses on electro-acoustic devices and electric guitar, Monteiro here plays accordion plus objects, which significantly alters the soundscape, giving it more warmth and humanity than the occasionally harsh, electronic tone of the duo. Barberán's trumpet has the same effect, particularly when it is muted to create an appealingly vulnerable tone.

It is not all touchy-feely though. Throughout there is a chillingly disconcerting metallic tone lurking which contrasts dramatically with the analogue sounds. Together, the three players put together a constantly shifting piece that can be unexpectedly altered in an instant by a contribution from any of the three, rather than gently evolving. Most often, such scene-shifting interventions arrive courtesy of Fages, but the other two can have just as dramatic an effect. Altogether, this is exemplary trio improvisation resulting in gripping music."

(John Eyles, All About Jazz)

"Back in Vital Weekly 450 we reviewed a trio CD by Ferran Fages (acoustic turntable, objects), Alfredo Costa Monteiro (accordion, objects) and Ruth Barberan (trumpet, objects) called 'Atolon', now, so many moons later, they adopted that as the name of their trio, and offer a new recording, from January 15, 2011. This is from the active part of the world of improvisation: Monteiro and Fages have new releases out, almost every week (and by the way: sorry that I called Angharad Davies a man in Vital Weekly 859 - she's not!) and usually deliver high standard music. In the thirty-four minutes this pieces lasts, we notice a few things. Firstly the build up is quite slow. Up to nineteen or so minutes the three players move around, each other, their own minimal approach of exploring the specific sound characteristics of their own instrument, but also to opt to stay close to each other, sound wise. Then there is a big loud bang and they remain 'noisy' for a good few minutes, in which there is a more mechanical sound ringing around until the accordion takes over. Throughout there is a fine sense of sound possibilities of their instruments on one hand and the way these instruments do actually sound when played 'properly' (whatever that might be of course). Thirty-four minutes of total concentration, playing around with such notions as 'acoustic drone' music, musique concrete and such alike. Dense yet relaxing."
(Frans De Waard, Vital Weekly)

"Ряд событий в одной плоскости — черта ambient, одно событие в одной плоскости — drone. В длиннотах постакустического трио есть и то, и другое. Есть ещё и неожиданный выход в другое пространство.

Современная импровизационная музыка — не тот предмет, о котором следует рассуждать в оценочных категориях, потому что не совсем ясны критерии оценки. Материал диска я всё же именую «музыкой» — форма концептуального CD предполагает цельное схватывание.

На диске представлена музыка отзвуков, резонансов, где важен даже не сам базовый тон, а его почти случайные метаморфозы, своевольные изменения.

Одной из главных составляющих этой музыки выступает время. Ничем не скрашенное, скучное время зависших на мониторе песочных часов со стрелкой — указанием направления действия, но не самим этим действием. Вещество альбома инертно, неподвижно. Это просто существующее отдельно пространство, пересекать которое волен любой слушатель.

Теперь, что касается структуры этой записи, хотя вряд ли музыканты ставили перед собой строгие композиционные задачи. При общей однородной протяжённости звукового полотна, насыщенного внезапными резонансами, случайными биениями, на диске есть и Событие — резкое изменение динамики, неожиданный излом, когда всё звуковое строение будто раскачивается, грозя развалиться, однако сохраняет устойчивость, позволив Сверхтрэку спокойно убывать.

Главные достоинства альбома лежат, конечно, в сфере тембров. И дело даже не в их разнообразии, скорее — наоборот. Основной предмет размышления трио — стрекочущая область верхних и средних частот. В звуковых слоях легко различимы привычные тембры аккордеона и немного дряблой трубы, но помещённые в «цикадный» контекст целого, они воспринимаются уже совсем по-другому.

Есть у Сэмюэла Беккета вещь «Опустошитель», там люди двигаются по строго определённым правилам внутри белого цилиндра; эта ситуация сильно напоминает мне нынешнее положение дел на импров-сцене. Новый диск Intonema — прекрасная иллюстрация происходящего."
(Андрей Поповский, Современная Музыка)