Tuesday, April 2, 2013

João Alegria Pécurto - Une Autre Mer (2013)

This is a cold, stark record. The album cover spells the music. 
Mr. Pecurto really detaches himself from the stigmas of the genre he inhabits, for the minimalistic string-based experimental sound has been overwrought with stale, nondescript efforts over the course of the past couple years. Hence my personal scepticism in even listening to this record.

There's a very, very strong basis in most of these tracks for Joao to play off of. He wastes no time in atmospheric development, the tension of the record is overwhelming right from the get-go. As the album switches periodically between shorter improvised sessions to full-blown string-shattering sagas, the one thing the album doesn't lose is it's dark, ethereal grasp.

The playing to open VIII is simply gorgeous, it's a shocking relief from the drowning abyss of VII. This particular instance on the album is a microcosm of it's structure, each song subversively counteracts each other in terms of it's own methodical output. Such a structure is crucial in maintaining it's sonic pressure, and more importantly, keep an element of relief engrained within the album. This is pivotal when it comes to the aforementioned deviation that Percurto represents, as other efforts within this construct of sound don't provide enough variation to maintain interest. It's a subtle mastery that Une Autre Mer has to offer, and I grandly enjoyed it.

After X, though, the album's overall quality seems to stagnate. The first 10 tracks all offer different tendencies, all graduations upon themselves. The acoustic backings that so gorgeously contrast the dark violins of the former half of the album don't make such a prevalent appearance down the stretch. Even when the relief that the listener was thirsting for became quenched during XII, the prevalence of these mood-contrasting sounds still declined overall. It proved somewhat frustrating, seeing as the latter recordings of Une Autre Mer wound up feeling comparatively underwhelming because of the lacking in this structure.

I still reflect on listening to this album as a positive experience, though. I must repeat that this album's enjoyment may see a lot of precedent placed on the listener's disposition, so save it for a day where you feel upset/depressed. It would probably make the atmosphere, the album's most important quality, feel more like a focal point. As such, your personal appreciation of it would be largely accentuated.