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CD Feature/ Agusti Martinez: "Are Spirits what I hear?"

img  Tobias

I really don’t know what Agusti Martinez hears, but for me, spirits are not exactly my first association with this album. Except maybe, if they come in the context of being “in good spirits” or something of the like, which, considering the opaque and apparitional character of the black and white booklet, does however not seem to be the issue here. And still, dispite its somewhat bleak aesthetics, this is a warm collection of multicoloured solo compositions for Alto Saxophone. On my mind’s eye, the summer’s what I see.

It is obvious that some people will have initial reservations about the concept of this disc. Admittedly, listening to one man play his instrument for 50 minutes may at first seem like a pretty hard job. But then again, Martinez plays it like noone else. Using the entire body of his Sax, he produces hissings, heavy breathings, stortorous noises, airy warblers, beatings and knockings, energetic one-tone meditations, abrupt fountains of tones and rapid melodic lines, walls of sound and open spaces and even throws in the occasional shout. As he points out himself, “Do I hear...” is not interested in virtuoso fingerpickings, but cares more for creating polyphonics made up of concrete and indeterminate elements – and truly, in the spacey and stretched-out middle section of the work, the original (or rather: well-known) timbral qualities of the Saxophone get lost in wave upon wave of fragmented clicks and rhythmic emissions of air. It is almost as if the Catalan composer has his mind set on deconstructing his instrument into microscopic parts, using each building block as a new source of aural material. But right before everything falls apart, he picks up on the intense opening and delivers some of the most sharp-edged and precipitiously majestic horn blows, dividing the sea like a giant oceanliner on a cloudless sky. The first release by Etude Records, Mike Hansen’s “At Every Point” was well-constructed and intruigingly asbtract, but with this fire-breathing set of pure electricity they distinguish themselves as one of the new labels to watch.

Martinez prefers the heat and the sweat above sugar-coated sweetness, but at the very end, he dives into a dreamy lullaby, a yearning and longing lyrical fantasy of a mere fifty second, which brings the album to a sensous close. I could listen to this man play forever.

By Tobias Fischer


Homepage: Agusti Martinez
Homepage: Etude Records


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