Alfredo Costa Monteiro - Insula (CD album)


A multi-channel composition for electric organ, commissioned by L’ull Cec for The Game of Life Foundation’s spatialisation sound system (consisting of 192 speakers and 12 subwoofers, using the Wave Field Synthesis technique).
Performed on 20 June 2012 at Fabra i Coats, Barcelona.
This recording is the stereo version.


Originally created as a multi-channel spatialised
composition heard through no fewer than 192
speakers and 12 subwoofers, the piece has evidently
lost none of its broad scope in this stereo reduction.
Monteiro’s language is indefatigably synthetic, his
palette of sounds raw, from which he forms tight bands
and clouds of beating frequencies, sometimes eye-
wateringly astringent. Unlike so many composers of
electronic music, Monteiro allows his material plenty
of time to speak, which in turn gives the listener time
to scrutinise their qualities in considerable detail. This
adds conviction to the steady evolution that Insula
undergoes, passing from insect-like pitches to industrial
drones and noise, from upfront and personal dynamic
affrontery to subdued middle-distance time-biding.
Monteiro describes the work as one for electric organ,
and that point of origin becomes much more apparent
in the second half, where austere chords penetrate the
shimmering and bring it into focus, and later hovering
in an uncanny sequence of wavering lines. But noise
regularly punctures whatever certainties pitch seems
to offer, initially in a squalling harsh wall, and finally
in a low throbbing band of something indefinable.


Review by Simon Cummings at 5:4