self eater and drinker



Ernesto Rodrigues, Jorge Valente

audEo 0399




















The duet of Ernesto Rodrigues and Jorge Valente was once named Orquestra Vermelha (the Portuguese name for Red Orchestra). The reasons for this choice – let it be remembered that it was thus the espionage network set up by the Soviet secret services in the III Reich called itself – are understandable, as well as those making them change their minds. Clearly orchestral is the approach to electroacoustics made by these two improvisers who, faithful to the principle that any sound is apt to be put to use when craeting music, fall into the Cagean tradition. Thanks to the “extension” of the violin operated by electronics and to the polyphonies concocted by Quatour, an interactive program on a Max basis fed by a Yamaha DX7 II synthesizer, the sound planes are multiplied, gaining an ambience we might call symphonic. On the other hand, the symbolic and rather ironic allusion to the existence of communist “submarines” among the Nazis is enlightening with regard to the ways of both, since they infiltrate musical aesthetics and typologies which have little or nothing in common so as to obtain dividends alien to those areas. I’m speaking about post-serialism and free jazz of which they consider themselves to be followers by crosslinking elements with no apparent affinity. From this geometrical progression there are results what is normally called “stochastic music”, a name which does define though it does not label, this being an impossibility (a desired one, on top of it) in so far as i tis a hybrid music.
It happens that both violinist and key player don’t think about music in terms of a finished product, be it a composition or a piece of work. For them, the musical activity is more important than what results therefrom. Blending the sounds each one of them creates into an indiscernible amalgam, the purpose of which would lie in itself, doesn’t interest them. More attractive is to get hold of their respective personalities and seize the inner voice of both in order to try, based on the latter, a mutual stimulation, a dialogue or, better still, a “creative dialectical dynamics” to make use of their own words. Such being in fact the route to improvisation given the understanding it implies of “the other” (meaning either the public or the musician(s) with whom one plays). After all, before playing the improviser listens. Better still: he does it with the prioritary prospect of being listened to. Silences, challenges and not necessarily foreseeable (the less the better!) reactions, contrasts and complementarities, ostinatos, glissandos, embrionary structures, bits of phrases never taking form, “self-intonations”, cascades of notes, “drones”, only apparently non-musical noises (Cage, always Cage), microtonalities, audio landscapes, false solos, inflexions of discourse, breaking of linearity as soon as it becomes a menace, simple murmurs or convultions, all this together becomes the working material of a twosome music, freely shared and directed to the “systhematic exploitation of the moment”, a music which elects real time both as substrate and cause.
Let it not be believed, though, that by having chosen to individuate their names on this CD’s cover Ernesto Rodrigues and Jorge Valente have solved their dilemma. The music they play between themselves is rather different from the one played by the former in contexts such as Lautari Consort or IK*Zs, and by the latter while member of the group Trioto Flêumico or Fromage Digital. There’s something which finally prevails over their respective influences and wills, something of which the two of them together rather than separately are simultaneously subject and object – a “something” which belongs to the sphere of indetermination, of chance. Improvisation is a music of accidents, and these not only do give birth to events, they also change beings. What two (or three, or six, or twenty...) musicians result in while playing together depends on the circumstances and on the way they adapt to each other, not only on what is most constant in them. Improvised music, an individualistic cry of freedom (let’s face it: he who is partial to improvisation will always be regarded as, to say at least, bizarre...), is also – in a deliciously noteworthy paradox – the most gregarious of musics, one that longs for collectiveness.
It is not surprising, in fact, that in the musical case histories of Ernesto Rodrigues and Jorge Valente one comes upon popular if not actually traditional music. Ernesto Rodrigues has played with Fausto and presently integrates Jorge Palma’s band; Valente is an applied student of the music of African Portuguese speaking countries, which he even produced and edited. In spite of their devotion to a minority musical practice, they take an interest in Portugal’s and Africa’s common patrimony including it, though perhaps not consciously, in their improvisations. The way Ernesto Rodrigues plays the violin bears testimony to this with its “folk” dimension and crudeness which is the stamp of the popular violin anywhere in the world. As to Jorge Valente... Isn’t it true that, nowadays, the computer is the popular instrument by excellence?

Rui Eduardo Paes