On Before The Silence, four musicians from the Iberian Peninsula collectively birth one 53-minute improvisation, split into three tracks and a final short coda. Pianist Agusti Fernandez is likely the most recognizable name here, but the nominal leader reedman Albert Cirera has an enduring association with the pianist, first as a student, then appearing as part of his Liquid Trio. Completing the outfit are bassist Hernani Faustino and drummer Gabriel Ferrandini, known from the Portuguese RED Trio, and in the latter's case saxophonist Rodrigo Amado's Motion Trio. The group forges an uncompromising aesthetic which combines high octane intensity with instrumental exploration.
Cirera predominantly eschews conventional pitches and suggest variously John Butcher with his distorted clucking and overtones and Peter Brötzmann when he savages repeated motifs. On soprano his careening slalom often defaults to falsetto yelping, but he is at his most distinctive in the lower registers. Fernandez moves effortlessly between the keys and the innards of his instrument as the logic of the unfurling improv dictates. As expected from such long familiarity, Faustino and Ferrandini shadow each other closely, though there's sometimes not enough space to fully comprehend Ferrandini's wondrous percussive torrent of pitch and timbre.
That density of interaction pervades the bulk of "Before," evoking a quartet sprinters hurtling towards the tape in parallel lanes, occasionally verging on the claustrophobic. The more open passages during the incremental beginning and at the end where Cirera's tenor preaches slowly against a seething rhythmic stew come as a relief. They are at their best when there's sufficient transparency to appreciate the interplay, as early in "The" when Fernandez' angular clusters jostle alongside choppy bass and drums.
Later in the same piece the pianist scales the heights, provoking comparisons with Cecil Taylor in terms of his energy and passion, and then enjoying a tappy mercurial duet with Ferrandini. After a pointillist opening to "Silence," suddenly all four embark on an excitingly manic chase corralled by thumping drums which ensure everyone pulls in the same direction. In a demonstration of emotional range, "Coda" acts as a short palate cleanser, which veers within sight of the outer fringes of tunefulness, but never quite breaches the City limits.
Before; The; Silence; Coda.
Albert Cirera: soprano, tenor saxophones; Agustí Fernandez: piano; Hernani Faustino: bass; Gabriel Ferrandini: drums.
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