~ VEILED by Elgier, Grinenco & Sahlieh
Every so often I get a large parcel of new releases arrive from the Creative Sources label, and each time I always end up feeling bad because although I play all of them at least once I only ever write about three or four of the discs each time. I have an awful lot of time for the CS label, what it does and the service it provides to musicians looking to either get a release out that can’t find a home otherwise, or let up and com in musicians release something for the first time. I am still seeking a solution as to how I can write something about all of the CS discs that arrive here, but what is really good to do is play something I really like by somebody I have never heard of and then share something about it here.
Veiled is the two-hundred and seventh release on the label, and is a release by the (I think) Argentinian trio of Alexander Elgier, (piano) Victor Grinenco (violin, hardingfele (?) objects and electronics) and Samuel Sahlieh (synthesiser, electric bass guitar and tapes). It contains a single twenty-nine minute studio track. I don’t think I have ever heard of any of these musicians before, and it is heartening to hear of yet more good musicians working in Argentina, a country that certainly seems to be blossoming on the improvised music front. The first thing that hit me about this release was Elgier’s piano, how well it is recorded here (the whole album is very nicely captured and mastered) and how much it made me think of John Tilbury’s playing. The disc opens with some slowly picked out arpeggios and little semi melodic fragments that are beautiful as much as they are familiar. Gradually the piano is joined by scraping strings and buzzing and humming electronics that also remind me a little of AMM until the synthesiser adds some extraordinary sharp, angular attacks that throw that comparison out of the window but give the music a very nice further dimension.
Veiled is actually a really good listen, all quite spacious and slow, yet often also building into dense little patches of buzzing, roaring electronics and bass guitar distortion with the piano floating over the top, sometimes played straight, sometimes with a prepared percussive thud added, and here and there crashing into loud, seismic explosions, all, dare I say it, Tilburyesque, but actually always done very well indeed and played with a fair amount of skill and assurance. The edge is brought to the music through Sahlieh’s synth, which refuses to slip into standard elector acoustic improv comfort zones and so, through its odd bleeps and swooshes keeps the music on its toes throughout. The lulls are all brooding and suspenseful, the climaxes full of drama, but there is also enough of a loose cannon in there to keep the music from becoming generic. The closing moments, with Elgier’s piano in gradually dying, gamelanesque chiming mode and just the slightest of accompanying rumbles is particularly nice. This is actually a very good release indeed, and one that has soundtracked by journey to and from work for a few days as well as getting played here over the last couple of nights a fair number of times. Maybe I am in the minority in not knowing these musicians work outside of this release, and if so I would very much welcome further recommendations, but for now I am very happy to point people to this disc and am very pleased indeed to have been introduced to it. Richard Pinnell (The Watchful Ear)
One of the aspects of Creative Sources I value is introducing me to players of whom I’ve never heard, know nothing about, but have produced wonderful work. Elgier (piano), Grinenco (violin, hardingfele—a Norwegian hardinger fiddle—, objects, electronics) and Sahlieh (synth, bass guitar, tapes) fashion a rather exquisite, AMM-like environment over the course of less than a half-hour, investigating carefully and with precision, taking their time, allowing the sounds to breathe. Elgier clearly owes something to Tilbury though his sound is drier, imparting a welcome crispness to the music where, I presume, Sahlieh provides the thicker, richer drones. fine tension is created throughout, gently antagonistic sounds stating their cases from across a room—brittle vs smooth, gloppy vs. stringent, always with that sense of room, all too often missing from much work in this area. Are there points at which things unravel a bit? Sure, notably some string playing that’s a bit too idiomatic now and then. But overall, “Veiled” is a really fine effort, one worth seeking out and which arouses, in me, strong curiosity about the participants. Brian Olewnick (Just Outside)
“Veiled” é um dos melhores discos deste novo lote da Creative Sources. Do trio com o pianista Alexander Elgier e com o violinista e electronicista Victor Grinenco, é Samuel Sahlieh quem tem mais projecção internacional, um multi-instrumentista e compositor residente em Buenos Aires também dado à improvisação e que neste registo surge em sintetizador, baixo eléctrico e fitas magnéticas. Mais uma prova de que a cena experimental sul-americana alcançou uma grande maturidade, esta edição deixa-nos intrigados com o seu sentido narrativo, a sua objectividade em “stream of consciousness” e a sua intensidade, mesmo nas passagens de maior alívio sonoro, que são muitas. Um exemplo de como o reducionismo evoluiu para formatos deveras interessantes, mantendo o seu substracto (a elaboração sonora por via da texturação e da aplicação de técnicas instrumentais extensivas), mas libertando-se do dogma que afectou essa área da criação em tempo real. Rui Eduardo Paes (rep.no.sapo.pt)
Three new musicians in my book. A single 30-minute free improvisation. Non-idiomatic, sparse, economical, serious. A fine sound palette: Grinenco on violin, objects & electronics; Sahlieh on synth, electric bass & tapes; Elgier on piano (prepared or not). In some places, the piano’s melodicism is at odds with the more abstract elements, although the piano is responsible for the very delicate finale. François Couture (Monsieur Délire)
Sinister tolls, electronic buzzes and distant spourts, sudden puffs and suppurations, piercing synthesizer shrieking, metallic hits, screaming tones of violin and hardingfele (a sort of Scandinavian fiddle), obsessive pulses and sting sonic wedges thiken the pitch dark where obscure piano fragments difficultly try to draw melodic lines over this 29-minutes lasting one track album, wisely titled “Veiled”, by this unknown Argentinian trio made up of Alexander Elgier (piano), Victor Grinenco (violin, hardingfele, objects and electronics) and Samuel Sahlieh (synthesizer, electric bass guitar and tapes). It’s difficult to say if such a title refers to the fact they were performing different scores which tried to reciprocally mask through mutual interaction, even if you could think about some Morton Feldman piece (for some strange reason, my listening memory focused on “For Bunita Marcus” while listening to the occasional piano sprays by Elgier) randomly mixed with some noisy stuff by John Cage after electrolysis, but the path till the final highly nervous saturation point is so catchy that any attempt of association with other stuff is going to appear an unuseful waste of time. Vito Camarretta (Chain DLK)