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Radi d'Or  Ferran Fages

at65r   Ferran Fages - Radi d’Or (2011)

Performed by the Ferran Fages Ensemble:

Olga Ábalos - flute & alto saxophone

Lali Barriere - sinewaves

Tom Chant - soprano and tenor saxophones

Ferran Fages - acoustic guitar

Pilar Subirá - percussion

Recorded in Barcelona, December 2011

Total Time: 36:09

Youtube extract

CD copies sold out but downloads available from our Bandcamp page here


“A whistle, a whirr, a low and slowly morphing drone, and this quiet but endlessly fascinating and timbrally jam-packed composition lifts off the ground into an atmosphere of its own making.

The sounds mix, merge and meld together with the softness of what Debussy was loathed to call an "impressionistic" score, but the language is that of European improvisational modernity, to whatever degree Fages' score actually involves improvisation. Timbres take on a level of distinction only to lose it, as can be heard when what sounds like muted kettle drums emerge at around 1:20 only to disappear, unceremoniously, some twenty seconds later. Similarly, is that the quietest possible bowed percussion, courtesy of Pilar Subira, at 12:14, just before Olga Abalos flute and Fages guitar enter in sinewy microtonal counterpoint?

The first fifteen minutes offer up a series of soft-edged fragments, a convergence and divergence of tone and texture that acts as a sort of overture to what follows. The rest of the piece is a continuously evolving wash of multileveled tone, sometimes blending to form the most achingly beautiful sonorities, sometimes traversing and re-traversing the microtonal spectrum. The result is a focused and absolutely meditative journey that places the previous fragments in sharp relief.

As is Another Timbre's wont, this 36-minute tour de force thrives on space and ambience. The soundstage is wide, and open-air listening is especially gratifying. That said, headphones reveal areas of the sonic spectrum, especially in Tom Chant's saxophone overtones and Lali Barriere's sine waves, that may be lost in an open environment. Indeed, the sine waves serve as the glue that holds much of the mixture together, and their range and diversity is nothing short of amazing. In terms of sheer beauty of sound and unity of purpose, this is now one of the best releases in Another Timbre's rapidly growing catalog.”

Marc Medwin, Squid’s Ear

“A piece that's more unusual and, I suspect, more involved than is apparent at first blush. A single, 36-minute work, it seems to be a composition though I guess one could be forgiven, if not paying close attention, for thinking of it as just another fairly quiet, steady-state improvisation but there's more going on. I wish I had the score to check on this; for that matter, I wish I could figure out a translation of the title. If French, it needs an "s" to become "gold radish". I tend to think of it as a corruption of "radii", transliterating it into "golden arms".

In any case, we have the Ferran Fages Ensemble, a quintet consisting of Olga Ábalos (flute, alto saxophone), Lali Barrière (sine waves), Tom Chant (tenor and soprano saxophones), Fages (acoustic guitar) and Pilar Subirà (percussion). It opens with crickets, then the ensemble creating low sounds that have an outdoors feel, including (I think) rubbed, deep drums. There's feedback, usually contained, occasionally yawping, long flute and saxophone lines, all kind of swirling gently together, beginning to congeal. For a while, the strands slowly circle one another--flute, scraped guitar, those rubbed moans, the sine waves acting as a tenuous cohering factor. Ultimately, matters coalesce and we have a kind of drone situation, though complicated and ever-shifting, with ringing tones and harsher buzzer emerging from the mix. The work resides here for its second half, a kind of shimmering, opalescent pool in which lengthy, plaintive, descending tones often appear. Towards the work's conclusion, there are small eddies of disruption, the individual elements regaining some separate character though they've moved, since the piece's inception, to a different territory. It has a very strong character of its own, subtly unique.

"Radi d'Or" is a release that grew on me upon multiple re-listenings as I became more convinced that there was some governing principle(s) at work which I still can't truly discern. Fages has revealed several facets of his musical personality in the past, from outright noise to virtual song-forms and more; this is yet another addition to that profile, and a welcome one. I really hope to hear more in this direction and from this ensemble generally--sounds like a really strong group.”

Brian Olewnick - Just Outside

“On rare occasions you encounter mysterious music that seems to have seeped out from a dream. David Toop and Max Eastley’s ‘Divination of the Bowhead Whale’ has that air of the inexplicable. So too does Ferran Fages’s Radi d’Or. Recorded in Barcelona, on the guitarist’s home turf, and bearing a Catalan title that translates as ‘radius of gold’, you might reasonably expect a composition that radiates colour and light. But this music is muted, crepuscular and arcane. Keeping Fages company in its twilit zone are percussionist Pilar Subirá, wind players Olga Ábalos and Tom Chant, and Lali Barrière using sinewaves. Individual voices are identifiable most of the time, but none obtrudes from the ensemble fabric of frictive rumbles, hesitant tones, frail drones and threshold whispers.”

Julian Cowley, The Wire

“Depuis plusieurs années, Ferran Fages a accompli un parcours plutôt remarquable tout en restant relativement discret. Un parcours fait de rencontres entre l'improvisation, la composition, l'installation, la guitare, l'électronique, la musique acoustique, électroacoustique, les radios et la platine acoustique. Autant de pratiques et d'instruments qui modifient constamment son esthétique, qui font de Ferran Fages un musicien capable d'éditer plusieurs disques par an, tout en sachant surprendre.

Pour cette nouvelle publication, le musicien espagnol propose une partition/idée réalisée par le Ferran Fages Ensemble, soit : FF lui-même à la guitare, Lali Barrière (sinusoïdes), Olga Abalos (saxophone alto et  flûte), Tom Chant (saxophones soprano & ténor), Pilar Subira (percussions). Cette pièce de 36 minutes est plutôt simple, mais bien réalisée, avec précision, intérêt, et sensibilité. Construite en deux parties, Radi d'Or se compose d'un premier bloc où les musiciens jouent sur des écarts harmoniques pour les vents et des écarts de fréquence pour les autres. Le quintet joue de longues notes ou de longs bruits tenus, mais tout en effectuant un parcours. Chaque sinusoïde arrive toujours plus haut que son point de départ, les vents partent d'une note pour se diriger vers une autre (toujours plus haute aussi), legato ou non. Idem pour les percussions, peaux de grosses caisses frottées avec dureté ou cymbale délicatement frottée à l'archet. Que ce soit par le biais de longs glissandos, d'esquisses mélodiques, de trilles, de bruits, de notes, ou de phrasés détachés, le quintet explore un écart donné sous toutes ses formes et les évènements se distinguent bien les uns des autres.

Ce n'est qu'au sein de la deuxième moitié du disque que les évènements se rejoignent en un son qui fait bloc. Tous les musiciens explorent la tenue d'une note, qui apparaît et disparaît au fil du temps. La musique est ici beaucoup plus homogène et plus linéaire : elle apparaît plus pauvre en terme d'évènements, mais l'interaction entre chaque son est pourtant riche et m'a paru encore beaucoup plus dense, riche et profonde que la première moitié. Au final, cette composition de Ferran Fages surprend encore pour sa nouveauté d'une part, mais se révèle aussi intelligente pour l'équilibre entre l'exploitation des écarts entre deux sons d'un même instrument, suivie d'une exploration de l'écart et de la différence entre chaque instrument. Une belle exploration de l'écart entre l'écriture horizontale et l'écriture verticale en somme, menée en parallèle d'une recherche sonore délicate, douce, et belle, car le son du groupe est aussi vraiment beau dans sa simplicité. Bon travail.”

Julien Héraud, Improv-Sphere