Tagged: Latin-American



Tensions At The Vanguard: New Music From Peru 1948-1979
USA POGUS PRODUCTIONS 21065-2 2 x CD (2012)

Pogus Productions take us back in time to discover the contemporary academic music made in Peru or by Peruvian musicians between 1948 and 1979. Reading the booklet inside reveals the intensity of the relation between the politics in Peru and the composers and musicians wanting to raise “Western” modernity in their country. The odd aspect of this record is that when you listen to the music itself, you’ll have no way to hear a difference between the music produced in Peru or produced during roughly the same period, in Paris for instance. It does have very good phonic music, orchestral works, mixed electronics, instrumentals or tape music beyond any cultural context or written western history of that epoch. It is an important reminder that the history of this music is far-reaching and does not belong only to the West. A compilation is not always the best way to show this, because it does reduce the richness of the composers/musicians works in some ways, however it does offer up a taste of those composers we may want to indulge more in. Works from Edgar Valcárcel, Enrique Pinilla, Walter Casas and Enrique Iturriaga to name a few probably deserve some CD space in themselves.

These composers were trying to be part of the musical revolution of the 1950s and beyond, they were learning the codes and proposing a music of their own. But what is their specificity? What makes them different from other music “schools” of that time (musique concrète, electronic, performance…etc.)? Why should they be different anyway? The question today for listeners in 2014 is also: what’s happening in Peru now? Who are the composers, the musicians? Jaime Oliver is quoted as translator and he is also a musician/composer living in the US. What has happened in Peru since then? Will there be a follow up to this CD?

A. Baugé

Ride the Wild Hog


Delightful and irresistible is Devoción (Works 2005-2011) (STAUBGOLD 128), a compilation of music by Meridian Brothers, an experimental music combo from Bogota. All the music and singing here is the work of one fellow, the multi-talented Eblis Álvarez. Apparently he alone makes all the music for the Meridian Brothers records, although there is also a five-piece of players – their names are listed inside the CD cover – who constitute, since 2009, the live version of the band. Meridian Brothers generate an extremely playful and infectious music based on traditional Colombian music genres, including Cumbia and Salsa, with influences also coming from 1960s tropicalia, surf music, Peruvian music, and even highlife and Ethiopian music. A miniature avant-carnival performed by a comedy version of the cast from El Topo. What you hear is balmy and eccentric combinations of woodwinds, percussion, keyboards, electronics, bass, playing spare and compacted melodic lines – all in the service of supporting Álvarez’s slightly loopy singing voice. Some of the experimental vibe can be attributed to the time he spent in Denmark at the Danish Institute of Electronic Music, where he learned useful techniques that have fed into the realisation of his fractured lo-fi one-man-band vision. None of the words are sung in English, but there’s no mistaking the crazed charm of a fellow loon in these screwball ditties; there’s also tremendous assurance in the way the instrumental layers are assembled and mixed in unexpected dubby fashion, and the economy with which special effects, samples, and distortion techniques are applied. In all these playful excursions, he never once neglects the pulsebeat and every song trundles forward with an endearing rackety motion. And talk about your wild syncopation – the rhythms are as tricky as 20 reticulated armour-plated centipedes crawling over the surface of the Las Lajas Sanctuary. In places, I’d almost be tempted to dub him the Colombian one-man Portishead, but he’s far more prolific and not as straight-faced as those chilly, repressed English types. Astonishing. No wonder he’s regarded as a genius in his home country. From August 2013.

Nada Será Como Antes

Symphony No 3: Siddharta Gautma O El Poder De La Nada (ROARTORIO ORAR 24) is a decidedly unusual and beautiful album which showcases the unique music of Nelson Gastaldi. Hearing it “blind” is enough of an experience. Something very puzzling about the recording quality. Maybe something to do with cassette tapes. Light distortion, distanced. The music is very layered, and the layers don’t quite match up. Like hearing one melodious fugue piled on top of another as if by random methods, or seeing superimposed photographs across different time zones. Swirling drones which we later learn are mostly processed sounds produced by keyboards, yet come across as clean and organic as though they were played by acoustic instruments. String sections from another dimension. Odd percussive interpolations that follow no obvious logic, yet appear as naturally into the vista as jackdaw or toucan cracking a macadamia nut while we’re listening out in the jungly wilds. Above all the persistent sense that we might be dreaming this music, making it up out of our imagination rather than hearing anything real. How many composers or musicians have aspired to creating that particular impression in their listener’s mind? Thousands, probably. Yet these three suites in this unusual symphony come close to it, patterning whatever underlying score or composition method there may be on the random logic of the unconscious mind.

We’ve got a sleeve note written by Roberto Conlazo, one of the original “unholy three” who created the Reynols madness in the 1990s. Anla Courtis was another of that trio, and he’s involved in the story too. Conlazo used to run a music school in Buenos Aires, and Nelson Gastaldi showed up there one day, leaving after a brief exchange about keyboards. Later Gastaldi met both Conlazo and Courtis by chance, and after a long talk about shared musical interests they had no hesitation in claiming this man as one of Reynols’ spiritual ancestors. Later still, they managed to interview him and have the results published in San Francisco’s Bananafish magazine, once the printed haven for far-out musical oddities of all stripe. If you like reading far-flung tales about strange visions and the power of ritual, it is certainly worth seeking out a copy of this text. Luckily it’s available on the label website. It persuades me that Gastaldi can probably be aligned with the magical-realist tradition of South American writers, like Borges and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

One of the nuggets to spill from his mouth indicated that Gastaldi had a horror of all that was mainstream and successful in art, particularly music festivals, art galleries, and media coverage. He tended to see the dominant culture as a trap, a factory which just created “more of the same” and “parasite music”. This may account for why his own music has been kept out of the public eye for so long; perhaps he was a deliberately self-exiled Outsider. Like Charles Ives who worked in insurance for most of his life and kept unpublished scores in his desk drawer, Gastaldi worked for an electric company in Buenos Aires for most of his life. Only since his death in 2009 is the information and the music beginning to emanate out into the sphere of attention. Would he be happy about this? I’m always struck by the reaction of Henry Darger, whose secret cache of writings and artworks was discovered in his flat towards the end of his life, a revelation he was powerless to prevent. His reaction on hearing the news was one of unmitigated horror; the worst had happened.

We’d probably want to move back one or two notches from that end of the purist Outsider Art scale when accounting for Gastaldi’s music. After all, Roberto Conzalo was invited to the composer’s house and was extremely pleased to witness the bare-bones setup used by the artist to realise his music. Very basic tape recorders, cheap keyboards, some actual acoustic instruments including violin and trumpet, and lots of toys and percussion devices. It doesn’t take an expert to realise that the genius of this strange music is all in the imaginative power of the creator in this case, the resourcefulness that could make art out of almost anything; I am reminded of Joseph Cornell and his well-ordered boxes of cuttings, objects and commonplace found items that were reorganised into three-dimensional statements of profound beauty. This is one reason I always get so bored and fed up with electroacoustic music made by prize-winning composers in Canada who have expensive studios, keyboards, filters, computers and lavish effects at their disposal, yet what ends up on the grooves of their releases is boring, lifeless, academic tripe, for all its rich surface.

My own predilections in this area lead me to favour work like Gastaldi’s, which vibrates and floats with its own understated raw, uncooked energy. The work has been digitally restored from the composer’s home tapes, which makes me wonder if the wobbly tremor effects are part of the intended work or part of the restoration process. Either way they work beautifully. Lastly we have the title which may or may not be referring to Siddhartha, the 1922 novel by Herman Hesse. I was advised to read this book when I was 16 but I found it dull and unengaging, and since then have always remained unpersuaded by tales of spiritual illumination and self-discovery. I’m more attracted to the second half of the title, El Poder De La Nada which translates as “The Power of Nothing”. While Gastaldi’s music here may have some trace elements which put one in mind of the swirling mandalas of Popol Vuh or Between, there is also a very eccentric trajectory that causes the music to meander as inexorably as a huge river, cutting its way through inhospitable turf. From February 2012 – sorry to have been so dilatory in noting this release, but I find it is still in print. Recommended.

Latin American psych and prog II (TSP radio 09/05/08)

Thanks to guest co-presenter Tim Abbott

  1. Os Mutantes, ‘Dom Quixote’ (1969)
    From Mutantes, USA OMPLATTEN FJORD 002 CD (1999)

  2. Tom Zé, ‘Nao Buzine que Eu Estou Paquerando’
    From Grande Liquidação, original issue SONY BRAZIL 050010 LP (1968)
  3. Caetano Veloso, ‘Annunciaçao’
    From Caetano Veloso, original issue PHILIPS R 765.026 LP (1967)
  4. Caetano Veloso and Gal Costa, ‘Quem Me Dera’
    From Domingo, original issue PHILIPS P 785.007 P LP (1967)
  5. Gilberto Gil, ‘Ele Falava nisso todo dia’
    From Gilberto Gil, original issue PHILIPS R 765.024 LP (1968)
  6. Tom Zé, ‘Curso Intensivo de Boas Maneiras’
    From Grande Liquidação, op cit.
  7. Ronnie Von, ‘Maquina Voadora’
    From A Maquina Voadora LP (1970)
  8. Traffic Sound, ‘Survival’ (1971)
    From Yellow Sea Years, VAMPISOUL CD (2005)

  9. Marconi Notaro, ‘Ah Vida Vida’
    From No Sub Reino dos Metazoários LP (1973)
  10. Ruy Maurity and Trio, ‘O Rosário’
    From Em Busca do Ouro, original issue BRAZIL SOM LIVRE SSIG 1016 LP (1972)
  11. Liverpool, ‘Marcelo’
    From Marcelo Zona Sul (1969)
  12. Laghonia, ‘Glue’
    From Glue, original issue MAG LPN-2403 LP (1963)
  13. Som Imaginario, ‘Voce Tem Que Saber’
    From Som Imaginario LP (1971)
  14. Los Dug Dug’s, ‘Felicidad’
    From Cambia, Cambia LP (1974)
  15. Tumulto, ‘No Soy de Nadie Soy Feliz’
    From Tumulto, original issue CHILE EMI ODEON LP (1973)
  16. Persona, ‘Terra’
    From Persona, original issue PRIVATE PRESS LP (1975)
  17. Walter Franco, ‘No Fundo de Poço’
    From Ou Não, original issue CONTINENTAL SLP 10.095 LP (1973)
  18. Tobruk, ‘Theme from my mind’
    From Ad Lib, original issue BRAZIL CASH BOX CB 501 LP (1972)
  19. O Bando, ‘Alegria Alegria’
    From O Bando LP (1969)
  20. Flaviola, ‘Romance da Lua Lua’
    From Flaviola e O Bando de Sol, original issue BRAZIL SOLAR LP 100.002 (1974)
  21. Bango, ‘Motor Maravisha’
    From Bango LP (1970)
  22. Náhuatl, ‘El Hongo’
    From Náhuatl, original issue CISNE / RAFF LP (1974)
  23. Perfume Azul do Sol, ‘Equilibrio Total’
    From Nascimento LP (1974)

The Sound Projector radio show,
originally broadcast on Resonance 104.4 FM

Anla Courtis and his throat (TSP radio show 21/07/06)

  1. Anla Courtis, piece for electric guitar, effects and processed field recordings
    Performed live in Resonance Studios 18/07/2006
  2. Interview / chat part I
  3. Anla Courtis, piece for home-made violin
  4. Interview / chat part II
  5. Anla Courtis / Kouhei Matsunaga, ‘Telepathic Collaboration’
    From Courtis_Matsunaga, PRELE prl001 CD (2005)
  6. Interview / chat part III
  7. Billy Bao, ‘Evapogoration’
    From R’n’R Granulator, W.M.O/R 23 CD [2005]
  8. Interview / chat part IV
  9. Strountes, ‘I Turn in the Room Sleepless’
    From Strountes, SLOTTET SLM2 CD (2006)
  10. Interview / chat part V
  11. Anla Courtis, piece for electric guitar and throat-singing
  12. Anla Courtis, extract from …y el resplandor de la luz no conoce limites, FINLAND 27 LATTAJJAA LTJ-25 3″ CD (2004)

The Sound Projector radio show,
originally broadcast on Resonance 104.4 FM