The world of the American maverick composers and performers, including still controvertial figures such as Harry Partch, Henry Brant and Anthony Braxton, bears intergenerational fruit on this fascinating and beautiful quartet session. Marco Scarassatti's self-made instruments are placed in the service of Creative Sources stalwarts Ernesto and Guilherme Rodriguez along with Nuno Torres, wielding their standard viola, pocket trumpet and cello to create luscious but sparse soundscapes that traverse the no-man's land between Spontaneous Music Ensemble and much of what the Wandelweiser label releases.
Whatever the ethnic concerns that dictate the cryptic titles, these are pieces imbued with an unerring sense of continually changing soft-focus clarity. There's almost a guilty pleasure gained from luxuriating in the triadic opening of "Omama." It swells, looms larger than life but softly, addictively sweet yet foundationally rock-solid, only to prove ephemeral, fading into a post-Cagian silence that nearly erases the sonority from memory in anticipation of what follows. Superficially similar, the drones on "Remoremo Moxi" are shot through, beneath the tranquil surface, with pointillistic clangs, scratches and metallic twangings, suggesting the kinds of wire-and-bar configuration of the instrument Scarassatti is playing on this extraordinary improvisation; but the piece is important for another and deeper reason: part of the way through, the vastly reverberant space the quartet is creating fades to near black, and suddenly, especially on headphones, the room in which the recording is actually taking place swims into sharp focus. The space is not small but not overly large, but it's completely different than the picture painted by the various instrumental configurations would imply.
Repeated listening reveals a constantly shifting world of minute changes amidst a background of quasi-discomfort similar to that in Faure's Requiem. The experience of inhabiting these six diverse planes of sound is both disembodying and somehow disquieting. Pitch becomes a matter of as much relativity as timbre and duration, while the surface timbres shift with the softness of butter, and what transpires beneath can take on the strength of steel or the durability of stone. The quartet doesn't reveal its secrets easily, but once glimpsed, they are not soon forgotten.
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