Aguirre Records / Belgium / 2023
"Orlando Furioso is a haunting, one-of-a-kind statement, from an important new voice in improvised music." - Steve Lehman
With the opening phrase of “En Tornasol,” an unseen barrier melts away to reveal an alien landscape.
Early European composers felt that their work reflected in its structure the divine nature of the material world. Via tuning, form, and contrapuntal alchemy, these musicians sought to illuminate and edify the complex and perfect order of existence. The music recorded here also reflects the contours of an ordered world, but it is no place any of us has ever visited. By assembling far-flung building blocks from the detritus of a 21st-century musical vocabulary, Orlando Furioso brings the listener into a bizarre new cosmos. The result is deeply expressive music that speaks not with the voice of a narrator or memoirist, but with that of a cartographer. Like a science-fiction Dante, the listener is taken on a tour of many diverse and colorful provinces of an alien world. Though each composition references its own set of real-world musical locales (from the Andes to Indonesia to Italy to New Orleans), they are bound by stylistic consistency into a coherent, continuous geography. Permeating this world is an uncompromising commitment to microtonal harmony, rhythmic intensity, and an ability to deploy the esoteric (Nicola Vicentino's notorious 31-tone temperament) and the head-smackingly obvious (a surprise djent breakdown) with equal conviction. Though Vicente's compositions are steering the ship, serious recognition is due to all the players on the record for their ability to meet these demands.
Our omnivorous musical diets offer real abundance. They enrich our craft by providing access to limitless approaches from which to choose - more masters to study, traditions to absorb, and techniques to hone than is possible in multiple lifetimes. They can also inflict heavy and often contradictory burdens of influence. When every corner of the map has been charted, it becomes difficult to find a new direction in which to travel. One solution I hope to see more often is the one pursued on this record: breaking down distinct musical worlds into component parts and reassembling them into a language. When completed with precision and with no stone left unturned, the seams between the pieces vanish and the listener is deposited somewhere beautiful and strange, left to assign their sensations meanings of their own. - Mat Muntz