Alfredo Costa Monteiro – Cinq Bruissements

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Vinyl
No Fun Productions

A fifth night of writing about vinyl then leads me to Cinq Bruissements a new solo disc of accordion improvisation by Alfredo Costa Monteiro. I say new, because the release has only recently appeared on the No Fun Productions label, but the music was recorded back in 2006. The music here is all acoustic, and unprocessed in any way, so we just hear Costa Monteiro making sounds directly with his accordion, though it is easy to see why he felt the need to include a line on the sleeve stating that all sounds are acoustic, as quite often the sounds here have a grittily electronic feel to them. Its been a while since I saw Alfredo play accordion, but I seem to remember him adding metal objects and bowing and scraping the body of the instrument to create some of the sounds he makes. Certainly there is a wide array on display here.

From the outset of Side A we get a series of short blasted sounds that certainly feel like accordion notes but have an added edge to them, initially just a brittle quality but then wildly distorted metal sounds as (I think) something small like a hand cymbal is scraped across the instrument as it blasts its ugly sounds. The opening minutes continue in this vein, quite brutally raw and direct, but also intensely vibrant. These first few attacks capture your attention well and truly. A bruissement, translated from French means something vaguely like a rustling sound, a quite harsh, brittle noise, and so the title describes tho music well. It may be that there are actually five tracks here as well, as there are certainly one or two slightly elongated silences on each side that are followed by slight changes in playing style, but if so nothing is noted on the sleeve, so I can’t be sure.

It could be that there are three tracks on the first side, and if so the middle piece is a less fractious, but no less noisy affair. Here there is almost always something sounding, mostly a kind of smooth scraping sound, or perhaps just the instrument wheezing away with something disrupting its air flow. Although still a million miles from Brian Eno, this ‘track’ is calmer than the first, and doesn’t feel like it is about to attack you if you stray too close to the speaker. The third piece then is softer still, opening with glowing bowed metal type sounds that swell and fall in relatively quick patterns but slowly beginning to slow and soften slightly, so the rough edge of the music is supplanted by a feeling of gentle breathing and steady undulation. On this track again we are reminded that its an accordion we are hearing, as that very particular feel to the tones is present again, but used for music so unlike what we are used to hearing an accordion attached to, it all feels a little disembodied in a good way.

The second side maybe contains the other two tracks, a harsh chain of vibrations made as metal items touch against something shuddering, and a longer, slower droning piece that sounds like the accordion has been muted in some way so the blasts of tone feel blotted out and strangely buzzing in an early, roughly electronic manner. The drone is never just smooth, always full or warbling fluctuations and added elements, but the sound seems to remain constant throughout. The five pieces here then all have a very simply, elemental feel to them, just more examples of extended techniques applied to an instrument by a musician that knows it very well and has dedicated large amounts of time and energy to sourcing new ways to perform with it. There is a directness, and curiously a very personal feel to this music, almost like a sculpture that has the artist’s fingerprints left on it. The contact between Alfredo Costa Monteiro and his accordion feels very important to this album and is present throughout. Compared to his first solo accordion release, Rumeur, recorded three years earlier than this one and released on Creative Sources, the music has a harder, perhaps more fierce feel to it, but it is also very listenable, and Cinq Bruissements is a release that should please the majority of those that invest their time with it.

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