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CD Feature/ Manrico Montero: "Betweenness"

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Mandorla label founder Manrico Montero stretches the musical lexicon of his digi-acoustic sound sphere by switching off between layering and juxtaposition and call-and-response models respectively. Owing to the anti-thetical relation between these two models, the pieces move well beyond the merely palliative toward an outright quest. A continuous flowing arc of tide-wracked timbres and glassy harmonics toll ominously from the onset and continue as such, underwritten with the flickering detail of the everyday.

Before this body of hum, odd scrapings, signals from the ether and off-world static that slithers slowly, fractal melody suites well up from a small cluster of players and serve as vital elements rather than extra harmonic touches. In the timely spreading of these traces, which curdle, sweeten, break, and disrupt the flow, the pieces seem the result of an alert and original group mind. They are simultaneously occult and elemental, alien and aleatory.

In "Tangencies / Part 1" it's saxophone tones welded into a bedrock, simultaneously anchoring and upsetting the undulating concave of atmospheric noise, while in "Sky Flowers" the fastidiously evolving vibraphone harmony mesmerizes as much as it breaks up the collective action. In fact, several works evince a real aptitude for both melodic line and interval, notably in their fragile multiphonics.

In this sense, the compositions are expansive and self-contained; a deluge that refines and further establishes itself. As the voice of Vera Ostrova waltzes in like a memory while Montero suspends, recaptures, and reverses the events, this trait takes on further weight. With "Noon Tide", her short, breathy intonations arrive time and again alongside shifting sections and a host of subsidiary drones and dry, laconic sound bursts. In so doing, they simultaneously suggest stabilization and transience.

It all nearly comes to a head with "Sweet Dusk Spiral", the closing twenty three minute composition. Glistening textures and rolling bell sounds exude a sense of balance and assurance, yet they have a sharp edge suggestive of tension. Bowed violin and cello, unfurling in helicopter-like sweeps, correlate well with this, bringing the piece to an edge before finally backing away. True to its title, the album lies somewhere between here and elsewhere.

By Max Schaefer

Homepage: Manrico Montero
Homepage: SEM Records

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