Alfredo Costa Monteiro: Anatomy of Inner Place

Alfredo Costa Monteiro: Épicycle

Sound poet Alfredo Costa Monteiro makes a memorable impression with his single-track, thirty-seven minute piece Épicycle. Having previously issued recordings using paper as the sole sound source, the Barcelona-based Monteiro this time around uses his voice as the singular source, although more precisely it's his voice transformed beyond recognition via computer processing. In simplest terms, it's a pedal-point space drone punctuated by granular starbursts, rattlesnake hissing, and open-mouthed screams. Roaring industrial storms explode intermittently and then just as abruptly vanish seconds later, as if gathering energy for the next assault. The listener thus steels him/herself in anticipation of another attack, in the expectation that it may be more intense than the one before. Eventually, a severed electrical wire spits out lethal fire as it flails spastically on the ground, after which soft tones lead the piece into a hazy coda where insects scurry under a rumbling sky. It's a fascinating journey, for sure, though not one you may want to take too often.

The title Anatomy of Inner Place hints that Monteiro might be continuing his bodily self-examination on the MonotypeRec release but, in fact, the recording is an exploration of his domestic environment, with every sound source originating from home and used as it was recorded with no electronic effects or processing except for dynamics. No identification of origins is provided for the four untitled sections so the listener can only speculate as to what's producing a specific sound. For all one knows, it's the rhythmic whirr of a fridge that appears in part one, and the vaporous flow of amplified steam that accounts for the billowing drone and muffled blasts in part two. A consistent alternation between episodes of high-volume intensity and microsound simmer characterizes part three while insectile thrum rises above steely emissions in part four. To Monteiro's credit, he shapes his “industrial drone” material with care and resists the impulse to lacerate the listener with the type of ear-shredding moments to which less disciplined practitioners might fall prey.

March 2008