Live at Audiograft is a recording from a performance by Ferran Fages and Alfredo Costa Monteiro, who collectively devastate audiences as Cremaster. Though neither Fages nor Monteiro have been formally appointed the title of “sonic vigilante,” their respective backlogs and overall approach to sound couldn’t be further from well-mannered. In dipping into a small portion of these backlogs, I get the overwhelming sense that these two are out to break musical bounds, with each new project attacked full-heartedly and from a different angle than the last.
I can’t speak for past Cremaster work, but the recent Fages solo outing, For Pau Torres, saw him pare down to little more than guitar feedback for an hour. Fages’ deliberate use of constraint saw the album teeter the line between brilliance and yawn-inducing, but falling toward the former. What is perhaps most amazing is how thin that line got, and can get with ambitious works of minimalism like For Pau Torres that rely on dissonance, texture and extended tonality to communicate things like form, meaning, emotion and artistic intent.
Cremaster’s music relies on similar principles, though it sounds as if Monteiro and Fages were working with a rather rich palette of electro-acoustic devices on the night of this performance. Since an electro-acoustic device is basically anything that converts electricity to sound or vice versa, it could be any of a number of things these two were wrestling with. Wrestling might be the ideal word, because underneath the dizzying noise bursts of squelching mixer feedback and spidery electronics there remains a sense of physical movement behind the sound, as if objects and contact mics played a significant part; one doesn’t arrive at music like this from the turning of mixing knobs alone.
Not only the physicality behind the sounds, but the shear breadth of the music translates quite exceptionally onto disc, and this is in no small part due to the mastering job of Samuel Rodgers. Recordings of live shows don’t often stack up to the real thing, but Live at Audiograft, with its blistering frequencies and world of howling electronics, has me as in-the-moment as ever.