Apteryx Mantelli cs492









IKB continue their series of albums graced with taxonomic latin names for animals, here with the North Island brown kiwi bird, as the string- and wind-heavy electroacoustic ensemble led by violist Ernesto Rodrigues present this extended improvisation of subtle motion and understated complexity live at O'Culto da Ajuda, in Lisbon, Portugal in 2017. (Squidco)

It seems strange to name an album after a New Zealand Kiwi bird, but strange is a good thing in improvised music, where we expect the unexpected. And this electro-acoustic ensemble delivers, although not surprisingly, given the Creative Sources label's consistent catalog that features improvisation of the sensitive and close-listening variety. This is also apparently part of a series of albums using taxonomic Latin animal names and after some close listening the choice of a bird seems wholly appropriate.

At 34:22, this is not a marathon session by any means but this long piece recorded live at the O'Culto da Ajuda, in Lisbon, Portugal in 2017 sounds and develops much like a symphony. The venue is devoted to experimental music and, judging by the results, the acoustics are conducive for this kind of slowly developing, dynamically wide-ranging improvisational compositional concept.

Led by violist Ernesto Rodrigues, the 16-piece ensemble balances sounds by strings (violin, viola, cello, bass, guitar, zither, piano, psaltery), brass (euphonium, trumpet, trombone, trumpet), winds (oboe, flute, bass clarinet, alto saxophone), percussion and electronics via a laptop computer. The aesthetic here is of a slowly moving flock of sounds, coalescing in the ether, never one dominating and the whole being more than a sum of its parts.

The music is shaped by the instrumental interactions, as the leading ideas and responses of members of the ensemble cohere and disperse in the air like bird sounds — hence the aptly titled album's reference to the Apteryx Mantelli, which Wikipedia tells us "has demonstrated a remarkable resilience: it has adapted to live on scrub-like farm land, pine plantations, and their native forests, but it still prefers dense, sub-tropical and temperate forest." This imagery is entirely relevant, as it seems this music evokes a sympathetic imaginative response for attentive listeners and the music that evolves over the 34:22 is like a living, sentient being. Paul Serralheiro (The Squid's Ear)

The next album, "Apteryx Mantelli" contains only one track, lasting a little over 34 minutes, recorded O'Culto da Ajuda in Lisbon during the CreativeFest#11. In this sense it a small disappointment, although the ideas, concepts and quality of the music is equally high as on the previous album. The compositoin/improvisaiton is quite peaceful, closer to minimal music and electronic avantgarde that contemporary chamber music, even though most of the hard to identify sounds are generated by acoustic instrument. As always, one of the most fascinating aspects of the music of IKB Ensemble is... its dynamics: the slow augmenting of tension and drama, the growing density of sounds and expression, the permanent announcement if the coming orgiastic explosion, which finally... goes by, like a thunderstorm heard from a large distance. This music is an example of intrinsically and profoundly collective work: there is no sense to distinguish or prase anybody. IKB Ensemble is a confined WHOLE, a UNITY without parts or elements. Maciej Lewenstein