- Artwork by [cover]: Alfredo Costa Monteiro
- Composed by: Ferran Fages
- Photography by: Ferran Fages
- Recorder by: Pablo Rega
- Mastered by: Ferran Conangla
Listen a fragment of Al voltant d' un para/.lel
Listen a fragment of Al voltant d' un para/.lel
“Al voltant d´un paral.lel ” brings to light a tension, which matches that of the previous two guitar albums of. It’s probably because a parallel could also be thought of as the lanes of a horse race, as a permanent conflict, or as a trait of one’s character that never disappears. The resistance which stands between the theme and something that pushes it not to be. Sibylline strategies. Repetitions which block it. Foldings, which, instead of doubling the sounds, they hide some of them behind others. Expansions that disseminate the notes till the notion of the theme gets lost. And the delay… This delay, this slowness, which, full of rancour, is opposed to the idea of the song. Nevertheless, several themes, or to be more precise, segments of them, could serve, properly compressed, as the base of a doom metal theme, of a strange folk song, or of a neo-psychedelic passage deprived of any electroacoustic adornment. This album makes one think the interior of a room. The reverberations give us its size, the latitudes of uneasiness. In the meantime, these harmonic sparks are kept by the ceiling, before they fall to the ground, taking the form of ashes. A consumed acoustic flight. Still more tension. Within his music he’s always taking notes, drafts and breathes. Nothing ever comes to an end. It’s as if Muybridge or Marey, with their cronofotographic devices, were sliding through the guitarist’s criterion without him being aware. There is no minimalism here, but desert/vastness.
sure seems ages ago. It could be said that his duo projects with comprised the formative years for ,
yet Cremaster’s music (2001 — 2003, roughly) remains so… tip-of-the-spear. While Fages and Monteiro were utilizing in their music electronic equipment
and instrumentation that was on its way to orthodoxy in experimental circles — gear and approaches of the same vein as, say, and — their concept was utterly fresh. Tell the uninitiated that your man plays a mean no-input mixing board, and the response might be, politely,
“WTF?” Yet when the aficionado learns that this board is played unadulterated, sans effects, no peripheral materials, it’s daring. And it really is.
This continues to be the essence of Fages’ approach to music; a rawness to the practice of creation, with the aim of listenability as the end product.
Fast forward to 2009 and one finds that Fages has released his third solo guitar record in about as many years [the second of those reviewed here]. Recorded live in 2007 at the Almazen artists’ space in Barcelona, al voltant d’un paral‘lel is a waypoint in a continued search for chance integration within the envelope of a conventional instrument, and he plays it rather well. Fages’ tone isn’t the easiest to pin down. Were ’s playing more technically inclined, stripped of its ashen Americana, and fashioned of slightly less dissonant tunings, he might be in this ballpark. Fages’ solo guitar work has traditionally focused on intervals and tonal relationships in lieu of meter and melody, although here he offers a bit of the contrary. It’s a gorgeous, full sound, wrought from heavier-gauged strings and a sniff of sustain, and the music adheres to similar, earlier doctrine, not least in the effects department.
I won’t begin to attempt to translate the Spanish titles. (They’re pretty enough to look at, anyway.) Fages employs the cleanest of tones across five tracks, which range in duration from a couple of minutes to in excess of thirteen. He focuses exclusively on the melancholy. There is a sad, desolate feel to the record, as if offers of relief are consciously avoided for fear of further, unanticipated discomfort. In the longer tracks, explorative patterns of sequential notes morph into bastardized chords, and the chords become finite, chance laboratories for the examination of tonal relationships. Fages also finds slow, canted grooves within (apparently) pre-arranged sequences consisting of orthodox strumming and cadence, gentle bends, and sparkly harmonics. Nuances abound, to the credit of the room’s lush acoustics for this performance, and a very disciplined audience. The disc as a whole doesn’t offer much variety in mood, but those who view their visual art in 15-minute tethered chunks so that no details are missed will find much to hear. While Fages soars in his more well-known, migratory collaborative efforts of the laminal vein, these guitar outings are hugely refreshing as parallel detours.
One general aesthetic notion that unfailingly fascinates me is what I think of as the "pendulum effect", that is, when a form or individual artists swings between one (ostensible) pole and another, picking up information from each and applying it across town, so to speak. So, an abstract painter might return to a kind of realism, but it will be informed from lessons learned in abstraction and, inevitably, emerge differently than it would have otherwise, generally reinvigorated. Fages, for a while now at least on his solo projects, has "returned" (I imagine he never left) to a kind of traditional approach, the guitar played as a guitar in a fairly tonal, very seductive manner, melodic after a fashion, intuitive. Quantifying exactly how it's different from what would have transpired had he not been involved in freer formats is, to be sure, a fool's errand, but one has the strong sense that it's the case. The pieces here are quite overtly beautiful, somewhat self-similar, Fages spending much time in the lower registers, brooding, allowing tones to hang, contemplating them with a certain melancholy. Take Bailey at his most tonal then up that tonality by 50% and you're in the ballpark. Lovely disc, well worthwhile.