Tellurium cs500









Although it's obvious that I haven't been focusing on larger ensembles here, that becomes particularly relevant with someone like Ernesto Rodrigues, who releases so many larger ensemble albums. (And of course Rodrigues's discography is huge in general, with many albums employing smaller forces.) I do want to mention the recent Tellurium, though, both for the music itself & for a couple of formal reasons: First, Tellurium is numbered 500 on Creative Sources, so something of a milestone, and seemed to be released individually for that reason. And I do want to honor the label that is releasing the greatest volume of interesting material (at least to me) right now. Second, Tellurium is in Rodrigues's "String Theory" series, and I've noted other such items: The first String Theory album was Gravity by an ensemble of 17 musicians, so the 16 musicians on Tellurium actually mark a return to those roots, but I had personally taken notice with the quartet album Xenon (discussed here May 2017) & then the somewhat larger Heptaphonies (discussed July 2017). (Tellurium also seems to relate to a mixed "Isotope Ensemble" that has a forthcoming release, Barium. Indeed it's related to various larger ensembles, as Tellurium was recorded at CreativeFest #11 last November, which produced Rodrigues-led albums by IKB, Variable Geometry Orchestra & Suspensão too.) Tellurium is generally a restrained album, as one has come to expect from Rodrigues, with various activity in waves, sometimes highlighting more the tinkling of piano or zither, but more often bathed in string harmonics... later into pizzicato. There is a tangible classical feel, particularly evoking music by Xenakis, the mathematization of which implies an impersonal quality that is also felt here. It's almost timeless or epic, though, in a way that Xenakis never quite managed — maybe even panoramic in the sense of distance interrogated through its sometimes ethereal mood. Although it takes barely over half an hour, Tellurium is thus a stimulating journey. I suppose I should also make a few remarks on why I haven't been prioritizing larger ensemble albums such as this: When it comes to a system dynamics perspective, a trio already obliges musicians to think beyond a single dualism (although that thinking might still involve only duals) — and those interactions can readily be extended via "partial objects," smaller figurations allowing multiple interactions, or different interactions among different physical components, such as individual strings. Larger ensembles obviously present more such combinations for interaction, and on Tellurium, even a (naïve) permutation approach suggests a very large number indeed. Yet, when it comes to the world, rather than the laboratory of a musical performance, the number of possible interactions is not nearly high enough. So yes, I am actually saying that large ensembles are not large enough! Moreover, this is no simple matter of adding more musicians, at least via recorded media, because of the limits of hearing & distinguishing. In my opinion, making the most of larger forces requires something other than a traditional audience setting or recording, i.e. it requires something like a "sound installation" approach that allows the listener to move around physically amid or within (if we are to assert boundedness) a differential sonic space. All that said, I do find Tellurium to be a rather enjoyable tapestry. So what do the next 500 albums hold for Creative Sources (especially if I may dare to believe that Ernest Rodrigues will maintain his current, astonishing creative pace)? [...] 25 May 2018. Todd McComb's Jazz Thoughts

This supergroup of strings--16 musicians on violins, viola, cellos, double basses, piano, psaltery, zither, and guitar--in an intensely restrained collective improvisation recorded live at O'Culto da Ajuda, Lisbon, Portugal in 2017, as String Theory's 4th album continues their title themes from the physical universe named here for the rare metalloid "Tellurium". (Squidco)