“GML Variations” reviewed by Neural

GML Variations by Miguel Carvalhais and Pedro Tudela stems from an initial composition presented alongside other works in a public screening at the Casa da Música, in Porto. The focus of this event was the Robotic Gamelan, a complex instrument developed in 2008/2009 by Rui Penha, José Luís Azevedo and Miguel Ferraz that involves a network of robots capable of playing the Javanese gamelan. The unusual apparatus, originally designed for use by people with reduced mobility, is controlled by a computer that sends serial information using Max/MSP and can be operated by performing simple movements, captured by the sensors that are incorporated into the system. The piece was presented in January 2018 and shortly after recorded in the same location. Carvalhais and Tudela returned to that recording several times, manipulating and processing samples, adding original materials and finally developing the four variations and the final track on the album. Many of the new sound structures were latent in the composition and the duo had to do nothing but make them manifest, impressing a different perspective on the same work. What seems obvious to us is how the very clear percussions evolve into digital sounds, creating somewhat strange and fascinating amalgamations, with iridescent layers, often overlaid by electronic noise that surrounds the gamelan sound. If a gamelan is an entity whose instruments are built and tuned to play together, even the electronics in this case adapt to the tones and atmospheres produced by the robotic set of instruments. In these GML Variations, the technique of contrasting acoustic instruments and digital developments in an exaggerated manner is never used. The quality and coherence of @c’s compositions are always outstanding. In listening the electroacoustic elements blend beautifully with the ethereal, abstract and spatial digital treatments. Not satisfied, Pedro Tudela has also released a box set reminiscent of the great installation awdiˈtɔrju held at MAAT, the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, in Lisbon, whose vinyl release once more includes a studio remix of installation samples.

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