Another Timbre TimHarrisonbre

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de las piedras

at09 las piedras

Esteban Algora - accordion

Alessandra Rombolá - flute & tiles installation

Ingar Zach - percussion

1. ámbar                                 7:45

2. Alabastro                             4:21

3. Galena                               12:19

4. Turmalina                             6:53

5. Jade                                    6:48

6. Amatista                              5:28

                       total time:      43:35

recorded at the Eremita de la Anunciada, Urueňa, Spain, August 2007

youtube extract

““The title, taken from a poem by Pablo Neruda, suggests in an exemplary way the use of the space where the recording was made – an old stone church in Spain, the eremita de la anunciada.  On this cd the instruments amplify and extend the potential of the location, indissolubly tying the music to the place of its recording.  The stones of the church transform themselves into sound, gathering within its walls the trio of Esteban Algora (accordion), Alessandra Rombolá (flute and tiles) and the fantastic percussionist Ingar Zach, known amongst other things for his work with the trio Looper.  As you’d expect these are improvisations, and yet the music is not far from the more ‘conventional’ sound of contemporary classical music.  It is relatively placid, though charged with an inner drama that can be both explosive and expansive.  All the track titles refer to the names of minerals, and the opening piece, ámbar, sets a mood of extreme melancholy with the disconsolate accordion impregnating the cold sacred stones with sorrowful tears.  Here Algora brings to mind the playing of Pauline Oliveros and the Deep Listening Band, but set against a background of concrete percussive sounds which add a sense of harshness and suffering to the acoustic experience, while the flute emits flurries of dancing sounds.  There are very beautiful moments when the flute slows the music down and offers some consolation.   Alabastro is a more classical piece of improv, in which the flute delicately underlines the tinkling of the percussion with short reproachful bursts.  Galena sets in motion and then cuts across a set of drones, constructing an architecture of brilliant lights and dazzling reflections which finally undergo a slow collapse into cacophonous clusters of dark, roaring sounds.  There is some great percussive work in Turmalina, sometimes gentle, sometimes screeching, while the accordion periodically tears apart the space to open up a black abyss.  A great and unusual disc, full of ideas and sounds of extreme beauty played by musicians with an uncommon touch and sensibility.”   

                                                                                           -  Alfio Castorina, Kathodik

”An ensemble of flute, accordion and percussion could raise expectations of rehashed folk music: but aren’t albums that trash instrumental archetypes great?  Accordionist Esteban Algora, flautist Alessandra Rombolá and percussionist Ingar Zach operate from Madrid and las piedras is their canny negotiation between composed and improvised ideologies.

The title translates as ‘of the stones’ and the disc is prefaced with a poem by Pablo Neruda about the alchemy of transforming stones into music.  There is the literal symbolism of Rombolá switching between her flute and an installation of hanging tiles that lend a pebbly, granite quality.  Zach is credited specifically as playing percussion and  bass drum, and uses the latter to roll sonic boulders across the soundscape.   Algora’s accordion embraces a similar range: a fluid, watery treble is met with thunderous sounds from the bowels of the instrument.

The first sounds heard are isolated accordion pitches placed in counterpoint with Zach’s percussive rumbles, as Rombolá bows her tiles to produce a halo of harmonics.  The result is stratified like stone or rock formations, but with each voice also allowed freedom of movement.  Algora’s broken accordion figurations evolve into harmonic swells, as Zach morphs his fragmentary gestures into an erratic pulse.  If there is a connection with composed music, Xenakis’s stochastic principles and the ‘anarchic harmony’ that gave birth to Cage’s late number pieces both come to mind.  But the intensity of instrumental nuance, especially as the music begins to occupy ruder and more complex gestures, is the trademark obsession of the improviser.”                                                   -  Philip Clark,  The Wire

“Percussionist Ingar Zach met Spanish flautist Alessandra Rombolá and accordion player Esteban Algora when he moved to Madrid back in 2004. They began to play together as a trio a couple of years later.  The location for "…de las piedras" – a stone built church - was chosen partly because Rombolá's solo recording "Urueńa" was recorded there, and the church's acoustics play a crucial role in the music's development. Many of these sounds resemble chamber music; its insistence on pre-conceived ideas is equal in scope to its improvisational focus.  Algora and Rombolá stagger their sounds apart generously.  Each one plays off the other with perfect timing while keeping their options open to sounds that occur by pure chance.  To say these sounds are subtle would be an understatement of the year.  Each breath given off on the flute, each move of the accordion arms, each squeak on the percussion is not only perfectly executed but delicate by its very nature.  The reverberation of the church as the sounds bounce off its wall further propels the music along.  Gentle scrapes on the tiles installation that Rombolá produces leaves a directly vibrant sound in one’s ears. Much of this music possesses a strange, nearly alien quality about it.  The first few minutes are spent simply adjusting to the slow pacing.  As the minutes go by, one starts to appreciate this music simply for its discreet dexterity and its humble nature.  If more groups would take up this type of a challenge, the musical landscape would be a much better place.”                                                                                 -    Tom Sekowski, Gaz-eta

“This Spanish-Norwegian trio made these recordings in a small stone church near Valladolid, and the ambience is beautiful.  With accordion, flutes and percussion, they make chamber improvisations full of nourishing content.  Sound, form and structure are combined in original ways, and the music acquires an attractive and edgy character.”

                                                                                                                        -   Arild Andersen, Aftenposten

“Zach begins with bowed cymbals, creating vibrating overtones around which Rombolá plays light or sometimes quite dark flute sounds, while the accordion buzzes, pumps and drones.  ‘Ambar’ and ‘alabastro’ are grounded in the acoustic of the performance space, while on ‘galena’  things come to an unexpected tumult.  ‘Turmalina’ confounds the listener’s expectations with strong, dramatic percussive work – Zach rattles and rampages while Rombolá plays tiles and Algora’s accordion groans and produces shrill glissandos.  ‘Jade’ brings us back to a more mysterious mood in which Zach lets his bass drum drone and gently roar while Rombolá scratches, scrapes or rubs her tiles.  And on ‘amatista’ finally Algora plays whirring and increasingly roaring tones which ultimately attain the volume of a pipe-organ and  drown out the sounds of his co-players.”                                        -   Rigobert Dittmann, Bad Alchemy

“Generally this music is elegant, in its own way, sometimes dignified (as in „Amatista” with huge, organ-like accordion). ...  The flexibility of instruments is important, especially Rombolá and Zach are capable of creating simillar sounds with their equipment. That makes subtle variations, slightly unfaithtful imitatations, possible, they canplay together but at the same time go on different paths of the same sound. ... There isn't much more I can do, than recommend this album -
full of music in which sounds shine with the light thrown by other, or hide in the other's shadows and in this way show their darker face.”
                                                                   -  Piotr Tkacz, Diapazon

“At the beginning, Algora's accordion is often a bit up front for my taste but when things are turned down a notch or two, as on the ghostly "Alabastro", the trio shines. The ensuing "Galena", rife with ringing tones, is almost equally lovely for much of its length. The clatter mid-disc is quite effective (not sure if it's Rombola on "tiles installation" or the always enjoyable Zach) but the finale brings back the organ-y accordion to the fore....I'm interested in hearing more from these three.”                                                                                                            -  Brian Olewnick, Just Outside

“A more unusual line up is on ... De Las Piedras with Ingar Zach (percussion), Esteban Algora (accordion) and Alessandra Rombola (flutes and tiles installation). Here the improvisation is of course, like all releases on this label, the starting point, but the outcome is unlike that of the previous three.  Indeed careful playing, silence plays a part, but throughout it seems to me that these three are aiming at something else.  It seems that things are more planned here, with Algora's accordion at the centre playing Oliveros' like drone music, and the other two are more in a free role.  This trio stays more close to original improvisation but offers likewise strong, intense listening music... each of them has their own view on the subject of improvisation, thereby proving the endless possibilities are available within improvisation.”                                                                                              - Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly

“In six improvisations Alessandro Rombolà, Esteban Algora and Ingar Zach explore compositions which they decorate at the same time; anguished pieces are softened and then laid out layer upon layer.  With a disturbing blend of varying tones, the trio draw together long passages and short urgent notes, resonances and secondary sounds, shocks created by quick gestures and quiet lyrical passages, all derived from the skills which have given us so much already.  Horizontal here and vertical there, their improvisations slip into the shadows and eventually pervade everything.”    

                                                                                                                       - Guillaume Belhomme, Le Son du Grisli

”Adventurous flute players, recorded in different configurations, unite the bands on these discs, which collectively plumb the timbres available when contrasting unusual tones from unexpected instrumental groupings. Anything but standard flute fare, each has something to offer the adventurous fripple fancier. .....

Italian flautist Alessandra Rombolá usually plays so-called classical music, though she has recorded with the No spaghetti edition ensemble and with harpist Rhodri Davies.  Madrid-based Esteban Algora, first-call accordionist for contemporary music in Spain, plays with a clutch of symphony orchestras and is part of a long-standing duo with Rombolá.  Norwegian drummer Ingar Zach is in bands as dissimilar as the improv power-trio Huntsville and the large No spaghetti edition ensemble.

Adding the percussion discursiveness from Zach’s bass drum and percussion – as well as the natural reverb of Urueña’s accordion, the Madrid-based trio multiples the textures available on … de las piedras.   As a long-standing duo, Algora-Rombolá bring invention – plus and cohesion – to their interaction.  This is shown to best advantage on “alabastro”, when ostinato accordion tones pulse while minimalist flute vibrations rebound off the location’s ceiling. Bellow-driven loops from Algora continue to fabricate the bottom as strident cymbal scrapes and flute shrilling expand the room’s spectral qualities by multiplying audible nodes and overtones. Additional polyphony arises when blurry bass flute glissandi slope across swelling accordion rumbles and the drummer highlights drags and drones.

Auxiliary kinetic textures are added to the mix on “turmalina” when Zach whacks a mixture of cymbals, tiles, ratchets and drum tops. A pedal-point accordion base gives the percussionist the freedom to configure the sounds to complement the others’ sonic flights. Eventually with an aural resemblance to a motor chugging to a halt, the piece ends.

Austere when necessary and with intimations of baroque tinctures elsewhere, this group redefines the chamber ensemble. None can be pigeonholed, but all can be appreciated.”                   -    Ken Waxman, Jazzword

“The sound of stones is attractive for many people and there are artists – Stephan Micus comes to mind – who've built a sizeable portion of their fame and fortune upon it. In …de las piedras, flautist Alessandra Rombolá, besides gracing the improvisations with her facility on the main instrument, is also heard manoeuvring a "tiles installation" that contributes a relatively physical quality to several sections of an outing which, for its very nature, is possibly the closest thing to certain Pauline Oliveros' Deep Listening-related recordings that Another Timbre has published to date. Accordingly, the fact that Algora mainly offers dissonant swells of accordion bathed in the natural reverb of the Eremita de la Anunciata in Urueña (Spain) – a stone building, if you had any doubts – is not irrelevant to the overall mood, which maintains an aura of inscrutability and suspension across its six tracks. We're at a safe distance from celebrated models of "relaxing music", though; the harsh beating between divergent frequencies occurring throughout the marvellous "Galena" and Zach's earsplitting zings clashing with Algora's low-register moans and Rombolá's well-placed flute stabs represent an ideal display of the musicians' disinclination to abandon a fighting stance – but we're talking martial art rather than trading punches. This is seriously considered, finely executed on-the-spot composition in a truly consecrated environment.”    

                                                                                                                   -     Massimo Ricci.  ParisTransatlantic

“Accordion, flutes, and percussion, respectively. Superb free improvisation trio. Lots of silence, finesse, and tension. I’ve been fond of accordion in free improv ever since I’ve heard Alfredo Costa Monteiro and Ute Volker. Algora proves to be a sensitive and creative improviser. This is abstract yet gracile music worth losing yourself into.”

                                                                                        -  Francois Couture, Délire Actuel

               to read an interview with Ingar Zach click here

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