Maat Mons

Ernesto Rodrigues :: stroh violin & conduction
Maria Do Mar :: violin
Miguel Mira :: cello
João Madeira :: double bass
Abdul Moimême :: classical guitar & clarinet
Andre Hencleeday :: tenor psalterium & radio
Maria Radich :: voice
Tiago Varela :: melodica
Paulo Curado :: flute
Nuno Torres :: alto saxophone
José Lencastre :: alto saxophone
Bruno Parrinha :: clarinet & alto clarinet
Paulo Galão :: bass clarinet
Guillermo Torres :: pocket trumpet
Eduardo Chagas :: trombone
Vítor Rua :: electric guitar
Manuel Guimarães :: piano
Carlos Santos :: synthesizer
Nuno Moita :: turntables
Monsieur Trinité :: percussion
Pedro Santo :: percussion

Live Recording on 18th November 2016 by Miguel Azguime at O’Culto da Ajuda, Lisbon, at the CreativeFest#10
Mixed and master by Carlos Santos and Ernesto Rodrigues
Group photography by Nuno Martins
Graphic design by Carlos Santos
Production by Ernesto Rodrigues
Thanks to Miso Music and Miguel Azguime

Creative Sources 2016


As always, the geometry is of the n-dimensional sort. The number of dimensions that vary is impressive: membership, instrumentation, location, duration, and so on. Certainly, the overall shape of each VGO performance is highly variable, like a murmuration of birds, as I alluded to in a review of the earlier Lulu Auf dem Berg. VGO remains a compelling attempt to harness the timbral and dynamic range of an orchestra while maintaining the flexibility in structure and individual freedoms afforded by improvisation. Maat Mons is scaled back from the enormous undertaking of Quasar, released earlier in 2016 and featuring the largest group on record to date, with 46 members. The 21 musicians on Maat Mons are less than half that number, but as with all VGO performances, a mere head count reveals little about the direction the music will take.
The piece rouses slowly, maintaining a low volume and a jittery, charged air of possibility as small groups of players make exploratory advances. But soon Rodrigues changes tack, and Maat Mons harkens back to the bigger free jazz-inspired sound of the group’s earliest recordings, as tapping cymbals and an animated bass line sketch out a shaky groove and the horns begin to raise their voices. As the music becomes more dynamic, illusions of figure and ground emerge in the unplaceable, shuffling timbre of nearly two dozen musicians. The listener is moved through the space in which the musicians are performing, one instrument momentarily the focal point, only to be subsumed in the din and the focus shifted to someone else, the foreground and background in constant flux. Three-quarters through the performance, the music drops to near silence, irregular dribbles of piano over a canvass of radio static and Maria Radich’s sibilant whispers. Dan Sorrells (The Free Jazz Collective)