With minimal means, the quartet of Martin Küchen, Ernesto Rodriques, Guilherme Rodrigues, and Carlos Santos on alto sax, viola, cello and electronics, respectively, creates a listening experience of symphonic proportions. While Küchen is a Swedish musician, the others are Portuguese, Ernesto Rodrigues being the founder of the prolific Creative Sources Recordings, a label devoted to improvised music. Cellist Guilherme Rodrigues is his son, and electronics wizard Santos, is also, like the senior Rodrigues, a visual artist.
Three sections, or movements, make up Vinter. It begins with "Mörkertid," a slowly evolving 5 minutes of subtle tones and textures, during which each of the instruments blends uncannily with the others so that it becomes nearly impossible at times to discern who's doing what, but a new kind of sound evolves in the process.
A more defined role is given each player in "Kyla," the second movement, as Santos' electronics provide a rhythmic Doppler ostinato, while violist Ernesto Rodrigues' searing, cicada-like line dances with Guilherme Rodrigues' at times growling cello. The breathy long tones of Küchen's alto followed by some plaintiff melodic cells make this a very haunting core to the work. The sounds in this section include such poignant textures as raspings and swelling screeches from the strings, with contrasting lines of more suave bowing and a long undertow of electronic intensity building throughout. The abstractness of this section is highly creative in the variety of sounds and textures.
"Barmark, " at 27 minutes the longest of the sections of this suite, gets into even more depth in sound exploration and range of expressiveness, while keeping a thread via the kind of eerie, spare mood of the whole album which, judging by its title, aims to communicate the feeling and experience of that bleak season, and manages to do so in a beautiful way.
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