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CD Feature/ Paul Bradley & Cria Cuervos: "Moraines II"

img  Tobias
When I was a small boy, more was definitely more: The longest pieces were the best and I expected (no, I demanded!) a lot of different things to happen musically while they lasted. As I grew up, I learned that this approach had all but died out after the 70s and that most contemporary artists instead constructed their pieces along different parameters, such as timbre, texture and mood. Maybe that is why “Moraines II” is making me feel young again.

The album effectively reintroduces arrangement and compositional imagination as creative factors by taking them to extremes. It is no mean feat and yet the two names printed on the cover almost warranted such an endeavour. Cria Cuervos, the musical alias of Eugenio Maggi, has brought back an element of suprise and confrontation into all-too often well-behaved and overly respectable genres like Sound Art and Musique Concrete, turning field recordings and atmospheres into surreal sonic landscapes. Paul Bradley, meanwhile, has effectively built a bipolar career, with one half of his releases exploring the polychromatic shadings of subtle harmonic movement and the other branching out into discreet microtonal explorations.

In many respects, “Moraines II” is very close to recent Bradley works like “Somatic” (on Con-V) or “Memorias Extranjeras” (on Alluvial), with its constantly morphing surfaces. On the other, it clearly expands on the idea of bizarre, living soundscapes explored on Cria Cuervos’ “Vor Feuerschlünden”. The collaboration is indeed a “best of both worlds”, as it (in)fuses Bradley’s equilibrium with Maggi’s unpredictability, collisions and confounding correlations. The regal sensation of drifting out of time and place has made way for a sensation of disorientation and dislocation, of revisiting places which seem familiar but which you can not quite identify.

This uplifting confusion is caused by the fact that every second of sound here has been meticulously composed, like a painter would refine even the frailest petals of the smallest flower on a gigantically sized canvas. The collossal 57-minute title track features several recordings of water, whose refreshing streams seem to brim, bustle and bubble through wonderfully natural riverbeds. As you zoom in on these supposed field recordings, though, it becomes apparent, that there are several sources running, flowing and dripping at the same time, creating an image that is somehow “too real” to be true.

Drones and environmental- or animal sounds engage in a similarly haunting symbiosis, with harmonic winds blowing through landscapes of tonal breathings. At first, these drones ebb away rather quickly, but as the piece progresses, their stays grow longer, their pulserate slackens and their expansive tendency increases. For minutes on end, they linger on the horizon like dark, glowing clouds, before gradually dissolving into vaporous dust again, making way for another cycle of billowing and decline.

At one point, all the duo does is frettlessly downtune their atmosphere to a deep, stortorous hum, which continues to linger and slowly shapeshift. It is this method of creating distinct musical scenes and of allowing new passages to organically grow from their soil, instead of merely seaguing different tracks, which recreates that classic feeling of wideness and borderless space.

Andrew Liles’ approach, meanwhile, documented here on his version of “Moraines” entitled “A Sisyphus Existence”, while at 16 minutes anything but concise and equipped with a mysterious Piano coda, works much more with repetition and gradual granular development, locking the listeners’ imagination in rather than setting it free. Both versions have their merrits. But to me, there is only one which truly captures that magical sensation of feeling like a child again.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Paul Bradley
Homepage: Cria Cuervos
Homepage: Andrew Liles
Homepage: Small Voices Records

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