Viola, acoustic guitar, field recordings and processes of synthesis: those are the components here. There is no bombast and yet such quiet music proves to be all-encompassing to my attention. Wade Matthews has written a most interesting sleeve note comparing the flow of music with water, gradually eroding and revealing, hence the album title. Whilst it is music of inner spaces, it also seems to reach out to something wider. Maybe I'm hearing a hint of radio astronomy sound, implied unconsciously in the process... or maybe that's just what these erosions are revealing in me? JC (Boa Melody Bar)
Tired and thoroughly fed up tonight for a number of reasons, but the good news is that I have managed to get a week off of work next week, a much needed chance to recharge the batteries a little and sort things out around here, which I haven’t been able to do since the crazy Christmas period. This evening then, after getting home from work quite late I have been able to spend some time with a CD that I have been playing quite a bit since I was generously given it at the weekend. Sometimes its nice to write about a disc quite early, even when the backlog is still quite daunting, and so tonight a few words about the new disc by Ernesto Rodrigues, (viola) Neil Davidson (acoustic guitar) and Wade Matthews (digital synthesis and manipulated field recordings), a CD on the Creative Sources label named Erosions. Caveats out of the way first then- I have worked on a CD with Davidson recently, consider him a good friend and was handed this release while at a concert he organised in Glasgow last weekend. So take all of that into account as you read etc….
Erosions then, (great name for the album by the way) consists of five shortish studio improvisations recorded in Summer 2010. These pieces are, if simply described, great examples of good improvised electroacoustic music recorded by thoughtful, creative people. They are nothing more than this, nothing less. As I have written countless times before, you don’t always have to rewrite the rulebooks to make strong music. You also don’t have to have sold hundreds of records before or be the name that everyone is discussing. Because of the label it is released on, Erosions will doubtlessly be overlooked and/or written off without being listened to. This is a shame as its a really good listen.
The album is a busy, abrasive affair, but of the laminal, textural kind rather than any form of jazz related call and response. Sounds wrench into life and then scorch line across the sounds surrounding them. This isn’t a noisy album as such when considered in the greater scheme of things, but it does have a fiery, jagged edge to it. Davidson’s guitar is acoustic bar the use of eBows, but is recorded up close so that every knock and scratch is amplified, its presence in the music driving the music on into almost aggressive territory. Matthews’ laptop sounds very from ringing tones through to synthesised warbles and squelches, but they are used very nicely, never sounding out of place or too artificial alongside the two acoustic stringed instruments. The field recordings apparently manipulated here are also taken so far out of context that they are unidentifiable from the synthetically created sounds. Rodrigues’ vila in perhaps the most understated of the three parts, preferring to add subtle touches between the other two for much of the time, though equally close-miked there are occasions when it also comes right to the fore.
In his liner notes, Matthews compares the act of natural erosion to the processes involved in making the music as sounds are stripped away, new ones appearing, others altered by new surfaces running across them. These are nice analogies for the music, which has an organic, roughly hewn feel to it, and therefore makes a great disc to delve deep into, poke your ears into every nook and cranny, ride along on the crest of the momentum as everything comes crashing down. The pleasure comes from the interplay between the textural events, how one set of sounds is altered dramatically by the next cutting into it, how one detailed texture is coloured by a new layer of sound sprinkled across it. Following the music through its twists and turns, but also listening vertically down into it is a thoroughly rewarding experience to these ears, and one done best at a reasonable volume.
So a nicely balanced set of recordings that edges on the grainy, gritty side but still has a soft layer folded through it all pieced together with impeccable timing, Erosions is an album by a great trio that I like quite a bit and am very pleased to recommend. My favourite release of 2011 so far. Richard Punnell (The Watchful Ear)
Le trio Ernesto RODRIGUES (violon), Neil DAVIDSON (guitare acoustique) et Wade MATTHEWS (synthèse numérique et Field recordings) explore les fonds de l'improvisation collective électroacoustique pour en faire remonter à la surface les sonorités les plus radicales de leurs instruments et dispositifs. Une véritable introspection au plus profond de l'instrument, dans une recherche de la sonorité la plus lointaine. Un vrai travail de fourmi au nom de l'improvisation horizontale, faite de micro-événements, d'accidents qui parfois sont le postulat de départ de quelques titres, comme sur le premier (s/t). L'usage tourbillonnant de la synthèse numérique (dispositif de deux ordinateurs) répond aux ritournelles mécaniques de la guitare acoustique et du violon, et se faufile très bien dans le paysage des cordes frottées, des sons étirés à l'archet, acoustique ou électronique. Si le disque attaque fort d'entrée, les plages suivantes sont ultra-minimales et plutôt menées par l'acoustique des instruments à cordes, pour finalement venir provoquer le numérique dans une certaine rivalité qui se faisait un peu attendre. Vraiment pour les fans du genre. Cyrille Lanoë (Revue & Corrigée)
I enjoyed a lot the page of artistic diary intended to say something about this project by one of the involved musician - arguably the one whose sound art is more audible here -, Wade Matthews, who got inspiration for entitling a session recorded in March 2010 with the skilled Ernesto Rodrigues on viola and Neil Davidson on acoustic guitar from a message sent by the photographer caring the artwork of this release, Mary Petrosky (is it fun a photographer with such a surname, as "petra" Latin root means "stone", likes taking pictures of rocks! It's really cool the one on the cover, looking like to a sort of scratched liver...), titled "Rocks I've met". Maybe he was influenced by the sweltering day occured in July 2010 in Madrid, as Wade himself admits, but he made a bizarre association between the general flow of the sound of this issue, whereas an important role has been played by the astonishing manipulations on field recordings (you'll have the sensation of being in his cool studio where any object, even his ringing phone, plays a role in this nice recording...a process which could remind the role of the notorious Stockhausen's dog!) and digitally synthesized creatures (some of them look like signals grabbed from ether or astronomic capturing system to be honest...) while guitar chords and viola sketches are just put in appearance here and there, and the erosive action of water on rockets. "At first glance", Mr Matthews argues, "water seems to adapt to the form of its container, and yet, over time, the opposite occurs. [...] As it flows, water erodes its container, wearing away the hardest of surfaces to reveal what is beneath. Extending our metaphor, we could say that sound flows from the actions of musicians, and among listeners. As such, it erodes both. But it also polishes both, and most of all, it reveals both". Is Erosions going to reveal something according the conceptualization by Matthers, acting in keeping with improv music principles? It's up to the listener... Vito Camarretta (Chain DLK)
Séance d’improvisation libre en studio enregistrée en mars 2010 à Madrid, dans le studio de Wade Matthews, ici aux enregistrements de terrain traités et à la synthèse numérique (c’est nouveau, je le connaissais antérieurement comme instrumentiste acoustique). Rodrigues et Davidson jouent de leurs instruments habituels (respectivement l’alto et la guitare acoustique), en leur appliquant des techniques forts inusitées, soit, mais auxquelles ils nous ont habitué par le passé. Erosions est une excellente rencontre d’improvisation: abstraite mais fluide, délicate mais jamais doucereuse, pleines d’interrogations (les chuintements de Rodrigues se fondent dans les sons ambiants de Matthews). Un autre disque qui démontre: a) l’intérêt de la démarche de Rodrigues et; b) son flair lorsque vient le temps d’assembler des groupes. Recommandé François Couture (Monsieur Délire)
Le violon d'Ernesto Rodrigues s'exprime de mille et une façons. Prenons cet archet qui patiente ou cette corde pincée. Ou encore ces silences qui chassent à chaque fois la note à laquelle succèdent en l'étouffant de tous leurs charmes.
Mais le violon d'Ernesto Rodrigues est rarement seulement violon. Sur Erosions, ce sont aussi des électro-objets fappés, traînés à terre, ramassés pour être renvoyés plus loin et des fields recordings (le tout inventé en direct par Wade Matthews) et des vibrations d'autres cordes (la guitare de Neil Davidson). Le tout est une somme de sédiments de réel.
La musique du trio s'exprime en improvisant dans l'agrément (le violon instrument classique abordé bizarrement mais instrument classique pour toujours) et le désagrément (les objets et les field recordings et les cordes tendues). Elle raconte autant de souvenirs-mélodies qu'elle prédit l'avenir d'une musique qui ne sera plus jamais. Pierre Cécile (Le Son du Grisli)
"Erosions" is a 2010 date with Rodrigues' viola accompanied by Wade Matthews' electronics and field recordings and Neil Davidson's rumbling acoustic guitar. Interestingly, I have the sense that, although the sounds here are quite full and active, the music is informed by quieter, more contemplative approaches heard or taken in the interim which have imparted a rich, breathing quality to the work, a sense of pacing and breathing that wasn't as prominent earlier (again, going from a meager number of samples but also of what I know of Rodrigues' prior catalog). I wasn't crazy about a previous Davidson solo effort but he fits in just fine here. In fact, the trio gels really nicely, creating a churning sound-world, with hints of drone, that results in one of the better recordings I've encountered from Rodrigues, well worth hearing. Brian Olewnick (Just Outside)
Improvised music has so many intuitive ways to go through which you cannot really predict. With this cd I got a feeling that the more I listen to it the more it becomes a sort of geological process about the imprinting the traces of the notes and phases the musicians are transposing.
Erosions est une autre rencontre inattendue et surprenante où trois musiciens assez différents tentent également d'établir un dialogue. Il s'agit cette fois d'Ernesto Rodrigues (violon alto), Neil Davidson (guitare acoustique) et Wade Matthews (synthèse digitale et manipulation de field-recordings). Trois musiciens qui ne jouent pas forcément sur les mêmes terrains, sur les mêmes esthétiques et méthodes d'improvisation, mais qui s'efforcent tout de même de créer ici une improvisation collective.
The trio of violist and label leader Ernesto Rodrigues with acoustic guitarist Neil Davidson and sythn/field recording artist Wade Matthews in erosive, sinister and engrossing improv. (Squidco)