The Squid's Ear Magazine

Fages, Ferran / Alfredo Costa Monteiro / Ruth Barberan: Istmo (Creative Sources)

The second album from the trio of Ferran Fages (acoustic turntable), Ruth Barberan (trumpet), and Alfredo Costa Monteiro (accordion) expands on their first "Atolon" album with these two recordings of intense electroacoustic improvisation, a mixture of ritual, controlled chaos, mysterious and often disruptively provocative sound, and other inexplicable evolutions.

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product information:

Label: Creative Sources
Catalog ID: cs023
Squidco Product Code: 24276

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2005
Country: Portugal
Packaging: Jewel Case
Track 1 in November 2003 at Festival Escucha, ToledoTrack 2 in October 2003 at Can Felipa, Barcelona


Ferran Fages-acoustic turntable

Alfredo Costa Monteiro-accordion

Ruth Barberan-trumpet

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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"I'm continually surprised at the rate with which Ernesto Rodrigues releases discs on his superb Creative Sources imprint. As most folks reading this know, the excellent viola/violin/electronics improviser began to document Portuguese and Spanish improvisation several years back and has quickly developed his label into one of the premier outlets for improvisation at the intersection of European free music, electroacoustics, and new music. I recently opened up my mailbox to find a package stuffed with seven of the label's latest goodies. All told, it's a strong batch.

Istmo (CS 023) features the fantastic trio of Ferran Fages (acoustic turntable), Ruth Barberán (trumpet), Alfredo Costa Monteiro (accordion), whose initial release Atolón (on Rossbin) was a jarringly noisy slice of reality. On this followup - consisting of two tracks recorded in the fall of 2003 in Toledo and Barcelona - the grit and alien organics of the trio's debut are back, but the music is slightly less relentless and has a wider textural palette. One of the new elements is Barberán's wonderful, didgeridoo-like low end ruminations on her trumpet. Her range is really growing these days and this gnarly, crackling trio - with the insane colors Fages whips up often being the least predictable - is the perfect setting for her. But the group language is growing too, now including passages where they ease back on the throttle and assemble relatively delicate layers of tonality. The key figure here is Monteiro, who really shapes this music with his silences, his wheezing, his aggression, and his ever-so-occasional lyric gesture. Tough, fascinating, and wonderfully unpredictable stuff.

[...] Taken together, this septet of discs is worthy not just for their quality but also for their documentation of this music (and some of its lesser known players). Rodrigues already has a new batch out. In the meantime, however, don't miss out on some of these gems."-Jason Bivins, Bagatellen

"In two lengthy pieces, both recorded late 2003, this trio improvises through a somewhat noise related set of music, even in the more silent parts of the music. There is some intense playing going on, that is quite demanding for the listener, as well as for the performers I guess. Scratchy, noisy and intense. Nice work."-Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly

"A feral antidote to the "regular" concept of trio is furnished by these lucid assassins, who keep releasing great music standing halfway through dual-purpose jumbles of noisy poormouthing and a radical reinvention of the act of stripping sound of every tourist beauty. This is aural toxicity at the very top, in kindless perpetrations of instrumental throwaway: what Fages does with a simple turntable would make Pierre Henry proud - or envious? - while the damp air coming out of Barberàn's trumpet grottoes meets Costa Monteiro's accordion in catarrhal metamorphoses of phlegmatic triangulations. No need for hocus-pocus, hand tricks or complex organizations of useless gentle movements: feel yourself like crossing a creek, tripping on a rock, being overwhelmed by your own ridiculousness - then you realize you just fell into an industrial sewer."-Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes

"This follow-up to last year's Atolón on Rossbin, recorded live just a month after that splendid piece of work, features Ferran Fages (acoustic turntable), Alfredo Costa Monteiro (accordion) and trumpeter Ruth Barberán in two more slabs of (not so) soft noise entitled "fehyst" and "ikhto" - seems like the good folks at Creative Sources are on a mission to outdo Autechre for strange album and track titles. All three musicians are regular visitors to Ernesto Rodrigues' label - it's Costa Monteiro's fourth outing on CS, Barberán's third and Fages' second - and one only has to dip back into the austere palindromes of I Treni Inerti's Ura, recorded just a year before this, to appreciate how far they've moved away from the discreet introspection of reductionism. Barberán's solution to the problem of being compared to a whole slew of lowercase trumpet poppers and ploppers - Axel Dörner, Greg Kelley, Franz Hautzinger, Masafumi Ezaki and Matt Davis (formerly of I Treni) - is to take the instrument back to its caveman basics, raw horny blasts replacing the now-standard vocabulary of hisses and gurgles (though there are still plenty of those too). Costa Monteiro's accordion playing is as weird as it was on his CS solo Rumeur, but he's not averse to using the old squeezebox in a more conventional manner to lay down some ugly, reedy minor ninth drones. Meanwhile Fages' so-called acoustic turntable, which treats the venerable machine as a kind of amplified circular saw, spits out the kind of noise that wouldn't be out of place in an iron foundry. It's a music of texture rather than substance, surface instead of structure, and listening to it is rather like dribbling your ear down a stucco wall: not exactly pleasant but it sure leaves an impressive scar."-Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic

Artist Biographies

"Ferran Fages (1974, Barcelona, Catalunya)

Ferran Fages is an improviser and composer, and an international reference in the sphere of electroacoustic improvisation. Since the end of the 1990s, he has published over fifty discographic references on national and international labels. He has undertaken tours, performed concerts and led workshops around Europe and South America as well as in Canada and Japan.

He plays guitar, resonant objects, acoustic turntable and electronics: "feedback mixing board", pick-ups and oscillators.

From 1999 until 2006 he was a member of the IBA col·lectiu d'improvisació, with whom he organised over one hundred concerts as well as the festivals Improvisa (2000-2003) and the Experimental Music Week at Metrònom (2005), among others.

Besides his projects, he has shared a stage and made collaborations with musicians such as Christine Abdelnour, Sophie Agnel, Núria Andorrà, Derek Bailey, Pascal Battus, Tom Chant, David Chiesa, Albert Cirera, Sébastien Cirotteau, Angharad Davies, Rhodri Davies, Michel Doneda, Axel Dörner, Lluïsa Espigolé, Agustí Fernández, Jean-Philippe Gross, Will Guthrie, Robin Hayward, Barbara Held, Jason Kahn, Martin Küchen,Eduard Márquez, Wade Matthews, Mattin, Manuel Mota, Ivan Palacky, Ramon Prats, Eddie Prévost, Pablo Rega, Àlex Reviriego, Ernesto Rodrigues, Alejandro Rojas-Marcos, Ivo Sans, Joan Saura, Pilar Subirà, Vasco Trilla, Birgit Ulher, Taku Unami, Nikos Velliotis, Dafne Vicente-Sandoval, Mark Wastell, Christopher Williams and Ingar Zach among others.

He has also worked with the choreographers and companies of Olga Mesa (1999), Lanónima Imperial (2003-2004), Carme Torrent (1999-2005), Ktonycia (2007), Constanza Brncic (2008-2009) and Merce Cunningham Dance Company (2009).

He has performed the following pieces of contemporary music: Guitar two, for four, by Phill Niblock (2004); Cobra, by John Zorn (2006); Meditations for Orchestra, by Pauline Oliveiros (2007); Guitar Trio, by Rysh Chatham (2007); Trio I from Trios WHITE ON WHITE, by Robert Ashley (2008); Poem 1960, by La Monte Young (2008); Diferencias familiares sobre las cuerdas, by Christopher Williams (2009); Little by Little, by Sam Sfirri (2011), and Cartridge Music, by John Cage (2012)."

-Ferran Fages Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Alfredo Costa Monteiro was born in 1964 in Porto (Portugal)

Lives and works in Barcelona, Spain.

He studied sculpture/installation at the fine art school in Paris with Christian Boltanski.In 1992, he moved to Barcelona. Since then, his work stands somewhere between visual arts, visual poetry and sound. His installations and sound pieces, all of a low-fi character, have in common an interest for unstable processes, raw materials and gestures, where the manipulation of objects as instruments or instruments as objects has a strong phenomenological aspect.

From 1998 to 2006, he was member of espai 22a, an independent collective for contemporary art. From 2001 to 2006, he was also member of IBA col.lectiu d'improvisació

In sound poetry, he performs in solo polyglot and noise pieces ( portuguese, french and spanish), where sound establishes a different semantics.

Ongoing sound projects: Cremaster (with Ferran Fages), i treni inerti (with Ruth Barberán), Atolón (with Ferran Fages and Ruth Barberán), Astero (with Juan Matos Capote), 300 basses (with Jonas Kocher and Luca Venitucci) and duos with Pascal Battus, Tim Olive and Michel Doneda.

He has given workshops at Hangar (Barcelona, Spain), ESDI (Barcelona, Spain), Janácek Academy of Music and Performing Arts (Brno, Czech Republic), Arteleku (San Sebastián, Spain), Facultad de Bellas Artes, (Pontevedra, Spain), ESAD (Caldas da Rainha, Portugal), Crossroads during John Cage's Year, (Lublin, Poland) among others.

He has toured in Canada, Japan and Europe."

-Alfredo Costa Monteiro Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Track Listing:

1. Fehyst 24:50

2. Ikhto 16:01

Related Categories of Interest:

Creative Sources
Improvised Music
Electro-Acoustic Improv
European Improvisation and Experimental Forms
Trio Recordings
New in Experimental & Electronic Music

Search for other titles on the label:
Creative Sources.

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