Saturday 30th MayMay 30, 2009
Another long day at work, tired with barely a moment to myself. But then you knew that already, shut up and move on to the music Richard. Well only one disc again tonight, but I’ve listened through to it twice, and have managed a couple of interrupted spins before. so I have taken in just about enough to put a view brief words together on LÃºnula the new disc by the Octante quartet released on the Another Timbre label. Octante follow in the time-honoured improvised music tradition of naming a group after the title of their first album. That first album appeared on the excellent l’innomable label back in 2004. Octante are a Barcelona based group mad eup of Ruth Barberan (trumpet and speakers with mic) Alfredo Costa Monteiro, (accordion and objects for this release) Ferran Fages, (oscillators and pick ups on this occasion) and Margarida Garcia. (electric double bass) Though this is only their second album as a complete quartet there have been several releases by the members of the group in different smaller formations.
LÃºnula contains two tracks, each near as damn it half an hour long. The first is a quiet, edgy, brooding affair. Various members of this group are quite capable of cutting loose and making quite a bit of noise together, but here we are witness to a nervous, almost cautious thirty minutes within which the group tend towards playing in little groups of two or three rather than all at once, and although there is little silence to as such, there is a good degree of restraint to be heard in the playing. As with many of the previous releases by these musicians there isn’t a lot of colour in the music. If this first pieceÂ was a painting then it would be a series of little brown or grey scribbles Â overlapping only slightly against a grey background. There is a lot of scraping, rubbing texture here, with just a few moments of cleanly blown trumpet and a curious patch of continuous bass rhythm breaking up the pattern. Its good stuff, albeit a little predictable. There are some nice little moments conjured up here and there, little cliffhangers that make you stop and wonder where the music might go next, though these questions are quickly answered and things settle into a comfortable formation again soon after. Unlike other recent Another Timbre discs this isn’t one that I can see myself grabbing to play again and again, but it is still a good listen, and if you stop for a moment and ask how the musicians are getting these particular sounds from their instruments then a further layer of intrigue is uncovered.
The second track is a busier affair, the first half much more full, with bowed and continual scraped sounds merging with sustained deep trumpet hums to give the music much more volume, in every sense of the word. Again this is darkly tinted improvisation, more of a crawl around a dusty disused warehouse than a run around a summer garden. It all moves quite slowly, with sounds tending towards slow growth rather than sudden appearance, with the latter half of this second track drifting off into a more droney nature in its second half, with individual instruments slowly becoming that little bit harder to pick out until a nice, erratic ending makes you really sit up and listen to the last few minutes.
LÃºnula is good, I like it quite a bit, but I can’t help feel that the quartet would benefit from a fifth, rogue element added to its number, perhaps someone with a wider palette of sounds, a pianist perhaps, or even just Ferran Fages playing electric guitar in the manner of his recent solo releases. Its not that the music here is particularly one-dimensional, but it does exist within quite tight boundaries, and while it would be incorrect and unfair to suggest that the musicians here are going through the motions it does all feel a little comfortable and familiar. Still, a nice disc to play tonight with all the windows open and just a tiny breeze cutting through the humidity.
If someone manages to read these words over the next eight hours could you please let me know a couple of numbers between one and twenty-four? Thanks.