“Up, Down, Charm, Strange, Top, Bottom” reviewed by Textura

@c’s Up, Down, Charm, Strange, Top, Bottom declares its unique character even before a single note is heard. There’s the unusual group name, for starters, and then there’s the album’s four tracks, two of which are under two minutes, and the others twenty and forty. Assembled using studio, live and field recordings, Up, Down, Charm, Strange, Top, Bottom is, in fact, the seventh @c full-length from members Miguel Carvalhais and Pedro Tudela, and their third on Crónica. Carvalhais and Tudela are sonic alchemists who piece together elements into collages of restless, shape-shifting character. In the accompanying notes, they accurately describe themselves as sculptors, explorers, and even watchmakers with the album signifying “one more step in finding our way in music, looking for something we can’t really define.” In their constructions, Carvalhais and Tudela wrestle with the tension between the recording in its static form as a “finished” document and the improvisation strategies which they bring to the recording process as a means for liberating sound from the structural foundations of a given composition and that “finished” state.

@c’s explorative spirit is nowhere more evident than in the opening “62” whose hyperactive flow is somewhat normalized by the inclusion of Miquel Bernat’s percussion playing. Real-world elements likewise ground “71” and “72” where dog barks and amplified water are audible in the first, and the decayed grooves of Stephen Mathieu’s 78 RPM discs in the second. Not surprisingly, the album’s coup de grace is “61,” not simply on account of its length but because it integrates contributions from a huge supporting cast that includes vocalists, percussionists, and a sax player, guitarist, and electric cello player. Don’t think for a moment, however, that “61” sounds conventional for even a single second; Carvalhais and Tudela treat their guests’ sounds just as malleably as they do their own, making “61” even more uncompromising than the three pieces before it. The piece is like a huge, multi-limbed alien organism that never stops changing colour and shape while writhing relentlessly and sometimes violently for an exhausting forty minutes. Admittedly, the individual instruments do identifiably assert themselves on occasion—the cello and kalimba most audibly extricate themselves from the whole—but more often than not the contributors’ sounds are absorbed into @c’s complex web.

This entry was posted in Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments are closed, but you can leave a trackback: Trackback URL.
  • Tags

  • Categories

  • Archives