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Pedra Contida: Xisto (2014)

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Pedra Contida: Xisto How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Pedra Contida (contained stone in Portuguese) is a Portuguese quintet assembled by guitarist Marcelo dos Reis to work together for a week in the remote mountain village Cerdeira in Serra da Lousã, in the Coimbra district of Portugal. The five musicians— dos Reis also on prepared guitar, voice and singing bowls are Angélica V. Salvi on harp, Nuno Torres on alto sax, Miguel Carvalhais computer, and Joao Pais Filipe who also collaborates with dos Reis in the Fail Better! quintet on drums and percussion—bring different approaches to the act of making music and shaping sounds. The music of this ad-hoc quintet explores the distinct sounds of the musicians in relationship to each other in the studio as well as in live settings within the village. They also explore different formations, and surroundings and the effect of the unique sonic etymology of the village's natural still acoustics on the musicians sound.

Xisto (schist in Portuguese) is divided into three parts. The first part features four short pieces by dos Reis that stresses the breadth of the quintet's vocabulary, from spare tone poems to electro-acoustic free improvisations and transparent sonic exploration of extended techniques and the timbres of the quintet's instruments. The 10- minute "Central Motif" highlights best the balanced and quiet, patient and searching interplay of the quintet, still, with a sensual and emotional impact.

The second part features the musicians in different formats. Carvalhais adapts field recordings from the village's natural surroundings and processes these sounds into a nuanced, dense texture. Salvi and Filipe create a meditative, arresting piece for harp and percussion that expands the sonic possibilities of the instruments. Torres and dos Reis continue this investigative vein but in a more abstract, tensed framework. The quintet reconvenes on the third part for an extended group improvisation, "Cracks, shale and Bells." It is a beautiful, cinematic piece that draws inspiration from the still scenery but transforms the vivid mountainous images into gentle, dramatic narrative, full of inspired sonic details.

Beautiful and inspiring document.


Track Listing: Part I - Four Compositions: Circular Motion, Cuts, Central Motif, Five Spaces (Live); Part II - Solo and Duos: Music for Computer, Music for Harp and Percussion, Music for Prepared Guitar, Alto Saxophone and Voice; Part III - Group Improvisation: Cracks, Shale and Bells.

Personnel: Marcelo dos Reis: acoutic guitar, voice, singing bowls; Angélica V. Salvi: harp; Nuno Torres: alto saxophone; Miguel Carvalhais: computer; João Pais Filipe: drums, percussion.

Record Label: JACC Records


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