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CD Feature/ Jose Luis Redondo: "La reponse est aux pieds"

img  Tobias

Just a couple of months after the sensationally received “Cancons per a un lent retard”, Ferran Fages’ cathartic not-coming-to-terms-with-reality, Etude Records are back with yet another release guided by the spartanic approach of one man and his guitar. Despite the obvious similarities, however, “La Reponse est aux Pieds” holds its own as an album with plenty of personal mysteries lurking behind the surface.

For starters, the extended set-up of the record is an important factor in its appeal. Jose Luis Redondo has included Dobro, Barotone Guitar, a “bizarre piccolo bass” and banjo in these sessions, noticeably adding colours and shades to his instrumentals. While the live-approach of “La Reponse est aux Pieds” implies a certain monochromatic touch within individual movements, the album as a whole feels highly varied and almost playful, despite its often slightly sombre and disturbed moods:  Redondo toys with the physical capacities of his tools to create complex reverb spaces and on “Ending”, he even plugs his guitar into an amplifier, creating raw canvasses filled with distortion and feedback.

The diversity between tracks not only exponentially increases the listenability of the record, but also gratifyingly moves it away from a mere research in timbre. Redondo keeps a red thread in mind for the album as a whole, but his pieces are meant to be appreciated on their own and, more often than not, as “songs” without words. Grouped just as much around musical themes as on performance techniques, there is an immediacy to this work, that feels refreshing. Academical connotations have been replaced with joyous improvisations and the pensive depression of Fages has made way for a positively whimsical sense of scurrility.

As with many releases from the still young catalogue of Etude, one needs to search for parallels in the visual arts, rather than with other composers. “La Reponse est aux Pieds” plucks and tears the guitar’s strings and maltreats them with various objects, imitating the sound of a saw working its way through piles of logs. Redondo takes a naive route, but he comes crashing from all different directions, presenting us with a multiangle view of the guitar in its most basic state: Quiet quasi-folk, soundscapes, seemingly uncoordinated fretboard runs, noise erruptions and effect pedal doodling taped both right in front of the instrument as well as from the other side of the room make for a obsessively complete picture.

It is only logical that the set closes with a blues, which under the circumstances may justifiedly be called “traditional”. Redondo does not want to start with form only to destroy it, but arrives at form as the result of a search, which looks at his instruments with the eyes of a child. To arrive at this kind of limpid clarity, one must either be a genial fool or a lucid professional. The latter applies to our man here, an experienced session musician in his hometown of Barcelona, but that doesn’t make his cubistic “one man and a guitar” excursions any less intriguing.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Etude Records

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