Alfredo Costa Monteiro

Rumeur (For Solo Accordion)

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They look like unassuming parentheses, right? But these are some of the most important parentheses you're ever likely to stumble upon. Listening to Rumeur, you couldn't possibly guess the music originates from an accordion. Alfredo Costa Monteiro is a madman. Of all the experimental accordionists out there (granted, there aren't that many), he is the only one who has blown the tradition to smithereens and assembled his own musical vocabulary from scratch. The five pieces included on this short (39 minutes) solo debut are all extremely puzzling, fascinating, and occasionally (for most ears -- constantly) unpleasant. No explanations are given as to the techniques or equipment used, but the minimal artwork (a handful of accordion buttons thrown on a table) suggests that Monteiro doesn't hesitate to take his instrument apart. Tracks one, three, and five sound like the artist is brushing a microphone against the reed grid of the instrument, producing a gritty, cavernous texture. It is probably more complicated than that, as each track has its own (if limited) sound palette. Track four features unexplainable and painful squeaks akin to a child playing the violin while applying way too much pressure on the bow. Track two is a delightful soundscape of rapid flapping. Here the asthmatic accordion plays a chord and is recognizable for what it is. When improvising with others, Monteiro sounds mysterious, his contribution often so strange it is hard to pinpoint among other improvisers also working within noise-based approaches. This solo CD clarifies nothing (to this reviewer's delight), except that Monteiro has drastically redefined accordion playing the same way Axel Dörner did for the trumpet or Annette Krebs for the guitar.

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