Cyclic Symmetry begins at its most active. All three musicians take part, Ernesto Rodrigues scraping the strings on his viola, Guilherme deriving deep drones from his cello, and Carlos Santos providing pulsing tones. After three minutes of development, the music fades to a several-second silence which is broken by the sound of a buzzing field, followed by muffled strings. The cello gradually increases in volume but, after another few minutes, fades in tandem with the viola. The chirping persists, and Rodrigues and Rodrigues re-enter, splashing their monotones against cricketed backdrop. All three musicians fade to a silence that is abruptly broken once again by the strings. The album repeats in this manner: several minute intervals of sound — sometimes musical, other times field recordings, most often both — punctuated with silence. Then the process starts again and repeats, in a series of differentiated loops.
It is difficult to determine a lead on this album. If anything, however, it seems Santos provides the backbone, choosing the ambiance over which Rodrigues and Rodrigues drag their bows and spread their drones. It is not as if the field recordings never occupy the foreground. They do. For the most part, however, they provide a sonic landscape through which the strings waft, wade, and weave, in a seemingly endless series of cycles and somewhat symmetrical potentialities. The effect is subtle. Cycles gradually build on each other for several minutes, then fade. As individual fragments, each one seems underdeveloped and underrealized. As a whole, however, they take the listener on a journey that is at once terrestrial — Santos' contributions offer this grounding — and temporally disorienting. Though the technological restrictions of the CD and digital formats force a de facto start- and endpoint, this album has no musical beginning and no definitive conclusion. Or, rather, it has numerous potential beginnings and conclusions that make for equally coherent experiences. One can begin in a cricket field or an aviary, one of numerous lakes and rivers, or a drizzling rain wherein droplets seem to intermittently fall on and interfere with the microphones. Or, one can begin with the silent backdrops, with or without strings. There is no narrative, though there is both familiarity and mystery. There is no musical progression or directionality, though there is change and subtlety. If you listen to Creative Sources recordings, such a description is likely not a surprise. The precise method and means of achieving such an effect, however, are what makes Cyclic Symmetry so distinctive and absorbing.
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