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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Maria Valencia - Compendio de Alfonías Abisales (Relative Pitch, 2023)

By Jury Kobayashi

Compendio de Alfonías Abisales is a recent release from multi-instrumentalist, composer and improviser, Maria Valencia. It was recorded at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. The notes accompanying the album suggest that it “was imagined between the town Sutatausa (Colombia) and the mountains of Banff (Canada).”

The album opens with a breath of air and a slow build of a scraping sound, accompanied by little whistling sounds that squeak through the texture of the music. I discovered that Neuston (the title of the track) is a name for organisms that live on the top or attached to-the underside of water surfaces. A fitting title for the track and a perfect example of the playfulness and depth that this album has to offer.

The second track follows suit this time titled after a species of jumping spiders. The solo clarinet bobs and weaves as if to trace the web of the Marantus Volans. Valencia has a beautiful personal vocabulary on the instrument and her tone is phenomenal. The track is followed by the blisteringly fast paced and fiery Cernicaloide. Valencia, now playing alto saxophone sounds equally at home on the sax as she is on the clarinet.

Many of the pieces are quite short on this album and often are no longer then 2 minutes. The range of the works are huge from the growling multiphonic madness of Variaciones de Parientes, to the bass clarinet march of Intermedio, the woodwind choir of Amarillos, the beautiful lyrical bluesy Medallas de Copas Arboreas. Each track on this album is a gem.

The final track is a complete surprise featuring toy piano. The melancholic sound of the toy piano is turned into a jubilant celebration with the insistent rhythmic drive of the chords propelling the music forward. It is followed up by a gorgeous woodwind and percussion anthem.

This album is beautifully done, conceived, and performed. Each track has something special to be discovered. The names of the tracks illuminate fascinating threads that weave them together. Fundamentally though this album sounds beautiful. Valencia’s sound is captivating, intimate, ferocious, and compelling.


Anonymous said...

Lovely, great. Thanks!