Cristián Alvear Montecino - Quatre Pièces Pour Guitare & Ondes Sinusoïdales (Rhizome.s)


Hear excerpts from the album here
Purchase Quatre Pièces Pour Guitare & Ondes Sinusoïdales here

As if one record from Alvear wasn’t enough, Rhizome.s released a collection of tracks for guitar and sine waves that further proves the Chilean musician’s versatility and refined playing style (check his bandcamp for even more). The first piece is one composed by Alvin Lucier entitled “on the carpet of leaves illuminated by the moon, for guitar and pure wave oscillator”. The composition itself is straightforward: a sine tone plays throughout the entire piece as a string instrument (Ryuko Mizutani’s koto on the Lucier recording, a guitar here) interjects with a single note every few seconds. The result is another one of Lucier’s exploration in the physicality of sound. We hear how each note affects the sine wave and how this process also differs with pitch. The main difference between these two pieces lies in the panning of its instruments. Lucier’s piece has the sine wave and koto mixed strictly in the left and right channel, respectively, forcing the listener to mentally follow this cause-and-effect path. Alvear’s realization isn’t as extreme in its mixing but the collision of sound is just as perceptible, making it a bit more palatable.

The following tracks are decidedly less austere. The sine tones on Ryoko Akama’s ”, for guitar and sinewaves” are lively and ripple in an almost whimsical fashion while those on Bruno Duplant’s “premières et dernières pensées (avant de s’endormir)” stay at a relatively low volume. The latter is especially great; the sine tones function as a bed of sound for the emotive guitar playing to build upon but the comfort of their presence never feels as strong as when they’re removed and we hear complete silence. In those moments, the song feels intensely lonely. Sine waves eventually return but it’s only with the thoughtful structure of this composition that they can continually increase in frequency yet feel so soothing. Santiago Astaburuaga’s “pieza de escucha III” closes the record on a high note. It’s a lush 23 minute epic that features Alvear creatively “playing” his guitar, drawing out interesting sonic qualities in the instrument’s body and strings. Actually seeing him perform the composition is thrilling and insightful but being restricted to an aural experience proves just as enthralling because of the song’s unique sound palette.