Aubrey Johnson - voice
Beatriz Nunes - voice
Mariana Dionísio - voice
Eve Risser - piano
Mark Dresser - contrabass
Abdul Moimême - electric guitar and objects
Pedro Melo Alves - drums and percussion
In Igma, the group and its music, came into being and developed during the summer of 2019, traveling along open air and inside concert locations, from Porto to Bolzano to Lisbon. The musical personalities of four women and three man from various wind directions, initiated by a young bold spirit from the southwestern Atlantic periphery of Europe, connected to coax sparking musical moments out of the fire of a communal realm of sound grounds:
High-pitched angelic voices straying amidst thunder rumbles, clattering stones, whipping branches, breaking wood,
high-pitched angelic voices unfolding amongst rushing skies, latent lure calls, whirling air and crackling fire tongues –
music conjuring a scenery between bliss and menace, darkness of seclusion and rise of singing gloss, a zone between timid shying back and happy flutter, clinging and free fall.
These wild, visceral and mysterious musical evocations could be a fitting soundtrack for the fire feast of 30th May, the famous Pagan-Christian syncretism of Walpurgis Night, the feast of bonfires and witches’ sabbath dances taking place on the legendary top of the Brocken mountain right in the middle of Germany: Now to the Brocken the witches ride / The stubble is gold and the corn is green / There is the carnival crew to be seen / And Squire Urianus will come to preside / So over the valleys our company floats / With witches a-farting on stinking old goats (J.W. Goethe “Faust”).
Of course, the four pieces on the album were not created with that mystical annual night event in mind. But, it’s not purely by chance that both would match and amplify each other. Nature and the spirits are not only a visual imagination thing but first of all a far-reaching sound affair. The music of In Igma has the evocative force to evoke associations with such a heavy-loaded spiritual scenery of my personal memory (I was born in that very area and grew up with the narratives of these mysteries).
Contrast and shifts in sound, texture and dynamics trigger deeper layers of our experience, traces of it left in our memory. Intuitively there is a lot lurking in the confrontation of (three) high-pitched voices and the pervading density of brutal sounding string vibrations as echoing texture. That was the uncommon and audacious starting point of Pedro Melo Alves for a commission to put his teeth into in 2019. Rui Eduardo Paes, mastermind of Portuguese jazz magazine Jazz.Pt
and curator of the Jazz No Parque Festival in Porto, then invited him to assemble a contemporary music ensemble and conceive music to perform at that meritorious annual festival of the Contemporary Art Foundation Serralves in Porto. Consequently, he let seven outspoken musical personalities take a wild ride of etheric, evasive voices immersed in the visceral materiality of double bass, prepared piano and prepared electric guitar, along an outlined direction with himself the composer as instrumental middleperson.
Things are not instantly apparent and are not canalized along pre-existing perception patterns. Igma has a side of strong visceral materiality and an etheric enigmatic side. These aspects interact and feed each other ad infinitum. It is an example of giving space first and time to immerse in, and surrender to, the interplay of the etheric and the visceral, to the direct experience of the space that is opened and marked by the musicians and the music. We need to walk in the dark for a while before we recognize exciting things that are hidden or are out of normal sight. Moments of self-forgetfulness – one of the most precious experiences in music – can appear, as well as sudden shifts from lingering in complete abandon to sudden furious attacks. And don’t let us call it ‘avant-garde’. This group c o n j u r e s … and as listeners we are obliged to nothing except enter the purgatory of our own deep memory and our delight to surf spuming waves of twilight sound or to cross the crashes of fire and ice. The journey has just started.
Henning Bolte, Amsterdam April 30, 2020 during Covid-19 lockdown