Although differing in their instrumentation, both of these new releases from Portugal’s Creative Sources label share a concern with sound color powerful enough to verge on the overtly visual.
Begin with Alba, which contains four improvisations by Ernesto Rodrigues on viola, Louis Laurain on trumpet, Guilherme Rodrigues on cello and Ricardo Guerreiro on computer. All four pieces exist within a sonic space of subtle movement. The basic sound shape running throughout most of the recording is a slowly mutating, ambiguously dissonant chord wrapped in an outer shell of electronic white noise. Although the identity of individual instruments is largely submerged, here and there their signature traces emerge, such as slow, pressure-heavy bowstrokes; a rush of breath; the scrape of hair or the tap of wood against strings. Somehow, it’s hard not to hear Alba through the impressions suggested by its title. “Alba” is Portuguese for “white”, and the four improvisations individually and collectively bring to mind Kandinsky’s or Ryman’s white-on-white paintings. As with the paintings these four tracks seem at first to be monochromatic, but on closer attention they reveal a spectrum of shadings in their details.
Early Reflections again features Ernesto Rodrigues and Ricardo Guerreiro, who are joined by Bertrand Gauguet on alto saxophone. Both of the release’s two long improvisations are abstract in the manner of the best abstract paintings, where form is a function of the relationships among colors. Through a series of plucked notes, key clicks, microtones, multiphonics and more, Rodrigues and Gauguet draw a rich range of timbres from their instruments, while Guerreiro’s electronics provide the canvas on which these colors are ranged. Together, the three juxtapose and overlap planes of sound, pushing and pulling at each other and allowing each piece to develop through shifts of density and dynamics.
With both of these recordings, one can almost visualize the plasticity of sounds as they respond to each other across the surfaces of audio space. A rewarding listen individually and taken together.