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CD Feature/ Pedro Carneiro: "Improbable Transgressions"

img  Tobias

It isn’t easy reaching out beyond your niche when you’re as nichy as a marimba player. But Pedro Carneiro has done more than that: Documentaries have been shot about him (“Détacher le grain de l'épi” by French cineaste Hélène Bouquin), he has reinvigorated the commissioning of works in his field and appeared on classical labels as well as experimental samplers. Carneiro has therefore, without a single doubt, transcended the fact that he’s a percussionist and risen to the position of one of Portugal’s brightest musical stars, a status further solidified with his release on the renowned ECM label in March of this year. So if there is a man who can make a meeting berween his instrument and a top notch ensemble of sound artists work, then it must surely be him – these transgressions were not that improbable from the outset.

Especially since Carneiro has found the perfect partner for this endeavour while browsing the internet: Compatriot Paolo Raposo of Portuguese imprint Sirr Ecords shares his passion for continually expanding one’s horizon and has built up an extensive backcatalogue of releases which have always been in close contact to other forms of art: Sculpting, modern art, ballet – taking the step into classical concert halls was almost a logical conclusion. What has made this step even more easy, of course, is that Pedro is neither a total newbie in the contemporary music scene, nor a household name: His ideas with regards to collaborating with electronic musicians are fresh, yet never naive and his way of thinking implies a much more personal interaction than the often completely anonymous filesharing process of the “scene”. “Improbable Transgressions” has subsequently turned out a work of dialogues, instead of egoistic interpretations and the end result can justly be called a “cross-synthesis of musical minds” (Cristian Vogel). Carneiro’s marimba improvisations are not just raw material for further sonic treatment, they are dedications, performed with the remixer in mind and can also be considered “assignments”. All of the composers involved have subsequently left much more of the original source intact than would usually be the case, often opting to build their input around it, ornamenting its silhouette or deepening its texture. Their methods are colourful – Ivan Franco has used bots who “listen” to the marimba tracks and play along with it, while Stephan Mathieu copied his improvisation from one cheap tape recorder to another, manipulating it merely with fast forward and play-button effects.

The typical marimba sound has remained recognisable throughout, which lends an air of closeness to the renderings despite their technical differences, but also means that almost all action takes place in the upper frequential spectrum – a treat one has to get used to. Especially the first tracks on the remix disc of this 2CD set are of a slightly nervous and agitated nature, which means they require concentrated listening. But the more your body acclimates itself, the more the uniqueness of this world shines through, the more you recognise that you can use both versions of the pieces as the starting point for further discoveries. An edgey case of cross fertilsation, but a rewarding one.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Pedro Carneiro
Homepage: Sirr Ecords

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