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Thursday, January 6, 2022

llumm - cuhda (self released, 2021) ****

By Nick Ostrum

Llumm is an interesting project. It consists of Alfredo Costa Monteiro on resonant objects and electronics and Ferran Fages on electric guitar and it steers them into a strange territory that blends the more active end of the wandelweiser spectrum with the doom-laden world that labels such as Utech have been exploring lately. Although it evokes their first release, adhuc, cuhda is shorter, but also more meticulously constructed. The sounds are that much deeper and the direction that much more pointed.

As one might expect given much of Fages and Monteiro’s previous work, cuhda is a piece that requires patience from both listener and performer. It begins with a high-pitched gurgling buzz. After thirty seconds, a solitary metallic pluck interrupts and extends and is plucked again and again, as the buzz ebbs. Shortly after, at around the two-an-a-half minute mark, hollow gong tones emerge, along with the scrape of metal strings. Two minutes later, the piece falls back on an extended ringing tone overlaying steerage sounds in the background.

By this point, one starts to hear the contending forces of the haptic – explorations of surface, texture, and metallic reverb - on the one hand and the drone - seemingly reflected off and maybe refracted through rougher guitar tones. At 7:45 the piece introduces the first of many turns, wherein Monteiro and Fages switch places, with the latter fading into the buzzing background (or spine) and the former dancing atop and throughout it. About 12 minutes in, a dissonant repeated piano tone gives way to echoing, repeating clomps of muted or processed percussion (“resonant objects”). Here, we encounter another transition, wherein the back and foreground invert and ambient sounds, possibly processed field recordings, color the background. At 16:30, cuhda returns to the grinding guitar tones and Monteiro’s sparse clatter of the first third of the piece. Juxtaposed with the relative calm of many of the earlier sessions, this section is surprisingly heavy, even jarring, as it simultaneously evokes waves lapping onto a shore and some looming but nondescript disaster. The gloom, however, only persists so long and around 19:30 a series of distant but bright guitar plucks breaks through the drudge. This tension between the dark sonic fabric the series of tears that threaten it continues to the end, which introduces an inversion of the high tone of the beginning which, somehow, reemerges in the last few seconds to bring the piece full circle.