Coluro cs513









Colectivo maDam — a loosely defined, electroacoustic improvising group from Madrid — is joined by Creative Sources mainstays Ernesto Rodrigues & Miguel Mira on Coluro, part of an ascending collaboration between these Madrid musicians & Rodrigues. Here the collective is represented by a quartet of Ruben Gutierrez (electronics, objects), Tomás Gris (acoustic guitar), Guillermo Torres (flugelhorn) & David Area (electronics). (One can e.g. also hear them as a quintet, i.e. those same four performers plus clarinet, on Fields Retro Coco Set, a relatively aggressive & animated album released by Ex Nihilo Records: There are other albums available there as well, in different configurations.) In May 2016, I had discussed Aleph, a quartet album on which Guilherme Rodrigues joins Area, Torres & Gris: Although I still approached those comments too much from the outmoded perspective of the "band" concept, rather than according to the more fluid forms defining these collectives, i.e. considering that different combinations tend to occur on different albums, rather than forging a stable lineup, the comment about an ecology of balance & restraint (& even gravity) remains appropriate. Indeed, whereas I was referring to geometric aspects of the sound stage & pitch gamut, and the manner in which they are spanned or framed, concepts of gravity would appear to reenter here via a(nother) quasi-"space" theme: Coluro is an old term referring to celestial coordinates, as reflected in the cover diagram. (Whereas "space" has not been my favorite theme, to say the least, and despite the electronics here, Coluro does not feature anything like a traditional "futuristic" spacey sound. The collective sound world it constructs is very much its own, although a sense of geometric spanning, including across regimes of timbre, does apply.) As with many (e.g. Lithos) — but certainly not all (e.g. Tactile) — recent Creative Sources releases, the relatively plain & seemingly hand-drawn cover — even suggestive of rough parchment paper, which it does not actually use — also projects a "do it yourself" ethos: Such an ethos would seem to fit the performers' approach more generally, including to their instruments, particularly the electronics, which are presumably homemade. The plain cover then suggests little of the rich creativity of the interactions themselves, let alone the creative construction efforts coming prior to this particular instance.... (One might also compare the pairing of electronics performers within a larger, half acoustic, ensemble to e.g. Thanos Chrysakis projects such as Skiagraphía — on which Rodrigues also participates — & Carved Water, which presents perhaps the most similar set of sounds. And whereas the latter also suggests a spatial quality via its "installation" approach, the former is more about cultivating a mysterious center via wave-like continuity.) Despite its own idiosyncratic invocation of space, then, Coluro might actually be said to project an earthy quality, including as reflected in the coloring of its package.... By way of continuing history, the participation of maDam members on Aleph was followed by Creative Sources releases Chorismos (on which Ernesto Rodrigues plays harp, joining Gris & Area in a trio) & Hápax (a different quartet formation without either Rodrigues) in 2017: The latter is a somewhat formless affair suggesting distant radio signals, whereas the former is more pointillistic. In turn, Coluro is much more elaborate & colorful, with subtle electronics configuring & responding to various contrasting plucks, clunks, rattles, rubs & flutters. The sound is almost immediately engaging, lively & with contrasting sonorities across a broad textural range, with good presence & even the occasional ringing tone. (Unusually, the album is also mixed — by David Area — to have excellent presence on small travel speakers. This surprised me, but it's a welcome option. Of course it's more spacious on better speakers....) Moreover, Coluro is a very substantial album, with three twenty-plus minute tracks totaling well over an hour, recorded on consecutive days in Madrid in January, the first track live, and the next two in a studio venue. Although they use similar combinations of sounds, each track constructs its own world, which comes to a full halt upon conclusion: Each track thus seems to provide an entire album of experiences by itself, such that one might even speak of a double or triple album.... (At times, the third track turns to some very high pitches, recalling e.g. Wade Matthews & Primary Envelopment, which takes something of a similar spanning approach to the very high & very low gamut. Indeed, the pacing & investigations of the maDam approach are clearly inspired by Matthews, while engaging an even richer tapestry of sounds & contrapuntal interactions. So these styles continue to evolve & do so rapidly....) There's palpable tension arising from a kind of disinterested or restrained aggressiveness, sometimes with a pulsing momentum, occasionally with distorted versions of animal (e.g. dog) calls or squealing metal amid various resonances, some repetitive ticks, a variety of string technique, maybe some dripping water or a few sirens... the result leaves the typical pop culture ear worm far behind. In this (very welcome & practical!) trait, Coluro recalls e.g. Ramble & its triple horn acoustic quintet lineup, Sediment before it (albeit there with a quasi-linear sense of process, rather than spatial spanning as here), and especially Nashaz, which also presents a similar range of sounds & interactions, albeit with only minimal electronics: In each case, one finds an elaborate articulation of complex timbres, different speeds of attack, whether percussive or breathy, and an energetic quality seeming to arise from (sometimes subtle) dissonance itself. Especially in the latter case (which evokes more "mystery") — as well as on Coluro — the balance itself drives a kind of dynamism, the concrete "do it yourself" industrial evocations both yielding to & surrounding various natural invocations (which come only at a distance, but are not derived from external samples, at least as far as I can tell): In short, Coluro constructs a highly mediated (& largely indoor) contemporary world of timbral counterpoint, and does so from an unusual & understated sextet configuration that seems to proclaim that more developments will be arriving soon.... Despite (& perhaps because of) that latter sense, Coluro cannot be ignored now, making it perhaps the album of the year in this space thus far. 2 July 2018. Todd McComb's Jazz Thoughts

The Spanish free improvising quartet Colectivo maDam of Ruben Gutierrez on electronics, objects, Tomas Gris on acoustic guitar, Guillermo Torres on fluguelhorn, and David Area on electronics are joined by Lisbon improvisers Ernesto Rodrigues on viola and Miguel Mira on cello for this 3-part work, the first recorded live at Espacio B, Madrid, the 2nd & 3rd recorded in the studio. (Squidco)