Dérive cs772









When it comes to collaborative, timbral-spectral musical investigations though, it seems that no one is really more prolific than Ernesto Rodrigues, and he's been very ready to articulate his ideas across a variety of social & environmental relations in the post-pandemic space, producing an ongoing series of notable new releases, even relative to his already imposing discography. Dérive — recorded in Lisbon in December 2022 — continues that trend, both "pairing" with Aeon (recorded one day prior, and reviewed here in January) to interrogate a sort of spatial (versus temporal) relationality, and addressing the Situationist tradition in particular. The album Dérive itself then suggests a series of nonlinear interactions & interrogations — or "strolls" per the flâneur track titles — via the music per se, but also through an array of potential opening remarks here: Staying with the Situationist theme, the psychogeography entailed in this (multi-)instantiation of a Dérive doesn't conform e.g. to literal geographic space — pace e.g. Psychogeography, an Improvisational Derive (reviewed here in March 2019) by a quartet around Marco Scarassatti & Otomo Yoshihide, which specifies actual latitudes & longitudes — but more to an abstract exploration of psychic space. (This might obviously be characterized as an inner space, pace Rodrigues' frequent naturalistic inspiration, although a more acoustic spatiality does also present itself.) And I should note moreover my favorite late composition by Pierre Boulez, Dérive 2 itself being a single long-form tapestry, various ideas (contrapuntally) taking off in all directions: Instead, this new Dérive both includes a variety of (timbral, deconstructive) restarts, rather than a single movement, and involves spectral counterpoint, i.e. beyond the twelve-tone space. And although it aims at a specific philosophical-historical method, Dérive also involves a continuation of Rodrigues' main recent collaborations, i.e. with Guilherme Rodrigues (of course...) & Bruno Parrinha (here notably on flute, as well as bass clarinet), both e.g. also on Aeon, ultimately projecting a folksier sound there, but also already forging the core trio album, Sans oublier les arbres (as reviewed here in the massive May 2022 entry introducing the newly ongoing series of collaborations between Ernesto Rodrigues & Parrinha...) — itself just reprised by Signes Émergents (also "only" that trio), a shorter & more recent (& less naturalistic) issue, recorded five days prior to that earlier (by release) trio.... All three had already appeared together for the quintet album Quelque chose prie la patience des nuages (reviewed in the same entry here...) too, itself more linear-distended around piano (& electronics), versus the tighter (& less minimalistic) new quintet on Dérive, now featuring three strings — adding João Madeira on bass — as well as Monsieur Trinité on percussion. The latter was reviewed here (in October 2016) in trio with the two Rodrigueses on Aether, and is sometimes credited (more specifically) with "small" percussion: Trinité often seems to be accenting the proceedings here, i.e. rather than navigating the intricate microtonal counterpoint per se himself, but does add distinctly to the timbral combos. And then Madeira (who made this recording, also doing the mixing & mastering...) has been an increasingly frequent collaborator for Rodrigues lately himself, e.g. with the étude-like quartet album Chaos (with percussionist José Oliveira & the same three string players) having been mentioned here in a January 2023 entry, that quartet itself being a followup to the string trio album Cosmos (recorded in January 2022) — plus e.g. other formations (with Parrinha as well) as noted in the first review here (in September 2022) of Distilling Silence.... So Dérive can actually come off rather aggressively, and is certainly mixed with a great deal of presence — not unlike Distilling Silence, to which it might otherwise be compared, not least for their two senses of liminality. And although the strolls can be quite atmospheric, and indeed highly multi-dimensional in their senses of spatial counterpoint, as already suggested, there's also no concrete sense of location. (Although there're certainly outdoor allusions, these don't tend to be figured into outdoor scenes: Perhaps they figure more as partial memories....) And so there's no concrete, physical sense of moving — but rather an internal, mental sense of movement... prospectively, of breaking out of mental ruts. (I found the full sequence of nine flâneurs to be quite disorienting initially.) So the sort of spatial nonlinearity (& abstraction) sets this exploration apart for me in the technical-planning sense, but the execution is also superlative, tautly articulated & frequently intense. There's a suggestion of electronics at times too, but this is an acoustic album — tending to add a bit to the aura for me. (The cover tends to remind of how I diagram my own paragraphs too. But it's difficult to find further comparisons, even as Rodrigues has traversed similar philosophical spaces in the past.... Farther afield, perhaps there's Precepts for strings & "percussion," itself with a different sort of ritualistic vibe, maybe more roughly articulated, more insistent....) And the distinctive general mix of timbres should probably be highlighted here more as well, i.e. from the richly contoured & sometimes imposing bass line to tinkling metallic percussion & various resonant shadings in between, the technique & experience that's required to develop this sort of (infrachromatic) "sound" can become deemphasized due to Rodrigues' prolific output.... For me though, this is useful & even central music for the 2020s, historical (& extra-musical) allusions & all, as Rodrigues & company balance (timbral, acoustic) strength against ethereal & open (harmonic) delicacy.... Indeed, a critical aspect of spectral music in general, i.e. for our new era of "post-"s (like it or not...), is that it doesn't smooth over the inherent physical complexities of sound & acoustics. And the Rodrigueses et al. also manage to articulate such complexities improvisationally, i.e. without stiffness or a heightened sense of (e.g. compositional) artifice. The music flows. Todd McComb's Jazz Thoughts