(Etude)

This is probably Alfredo Costa Monteiro’s finest moment to date, a concise, mature composition lasting over 37 minutes, entirely conceived by processing vocal sounds. Still, locating something even just nearing a voice is an arduous task, for the source gets thoroughly modified and transformed in a virtually unrecognizable mass of biting frequencies. Distorted, yes, but often almost suave to the ears: since the beginning, in fact, a shadowy droning elongated wash is the basis for a waiting condition at first, then it is submerged by well circumstantiated dynamic alterations – occasional bursts that could surprise and scare should one rotate the volume knob way up – so that nearly always the piece follows this alternance of static caress and avalanche mathematics, never conceding a second of relax. We’re perennially conscious of an incoming mutation, severely concentrated on those acrid emissions whose arrhythmic yet precise in-and-out dance is exactly the reason that defines the greatness of the concept. It may be a personal opinion, but perhaps Costa Monteiro’s recent collaboration with John Duncan has introduced a couple of new dimensions to an already brilliant artistic credo – which recites more or less “everything becomes a good sound if its creator resounds within”. To Duncan’s vocal works (such as his albums with Elliott Sharp and Asmus Tietchens) the audience might look as a distant point of reference when approaching this outing, a classy move by a figure we can easily rely upon, reassured about the existence of pure sonic materials even in an artistically watered-down era like this. “Épicycle” leaves behind the “independent production” status to reach the elite of modern electronic music that must be deemed considerable.

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