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Friday, June 7, 2024

Miguel A. García, Abdul Moimême, Alex Reviriego, Ernesto Rodrigues, Carlos Santos - Mars Reveri (Creative Sources, 2024)

By Stuart Broomer

This recording documents a Bilbao performance from 2019 by a quintet of Spanish and Portuguese musicians, with Miguel A. Garcia and Carlos Santos, electronics; Abdul Moimême, guitar and metals; Alex Reviriego, double bass; and Ernesto Rodrigues, piano harp & viola, with Ibonrg the guest voice on the fourth track, "Tulse Dunn". I'm familiar with the work of the Portuguese musicians here (Santos, Moimême and Rodrigues) not so with the Spanish (Garcia and Reyiriego), but everyone is clearly compatible, to the degree that individual contributions merge in the collective action.

The credits list Garcia as mixing and editing the performance and dates these to 2023-24. Given the density and character of the quintet’s sound, that seems reasonable. Whenever it was recorded and released, this music would demand attention. Sounds that come to the fore will sometimes have highly distinct qualities: strings are prominent, whether strummed or scraped, whether guitar, violin or piano harp, but they’re decidedly steel strings and there’s tremendous reverberation and resonance, likely both situational and electronic. Metal, whether struck or scraped, or applied to strings, whether directly or as resonator, is prominent. It’s the collective and cumulative sound, an echoing aura, that makes the greatest, and most prominent, impression.

There is, for this listener, a strong sense of conflict in this music suggested by the title reference to Mars, as god of war, but there’s also “reveri”, the suggestion of reflection or meditation, It’s an intensely visually suggestive music, perhaps based on the gestures required to produce it. The most resonantly prominent sound I hear is likely the metal piano frame being struck with a percussionist’s mallet with the sustain pedal pressed down, being close miked. It’s also joined by other percussion, something sounding like boxes being struck with close miking or heavy amplification. There are also sounds in the band's electronics that might pass for a turbine, something like a close call with an airplane under power.

All of this environmental power is achieved with little resembling the conventional artifice of what we think of as musical. Here the resonating gesture is everything, essentially a blow, like the dead steer in the grand piano in Le Chien Andalou, behind a plough with reclining priests aboard. It’s that kind of song, though it also feels less unpopulated, like an abandoned space station redeployed as a dedicated echo chamber. If that doesn’t sound like a positive endorsement, you just haven’t heard it yet.