lpz Records 001 Lp
Luis Lopes – electric guitar, dist. pedals, wah wah and amp
Recorded live April 2nd 2011 and January 27th 2012 by Cristiano Nunes at ZDB Lisbon, Portugal. Mixed July 2012 by Joaquim Monte at Namouche Studios, Lisbon, Portugal. Produced by Luis Lopes. Art Work by MM.
Dynamos, Morse code machines, ship and factory sirens, steam engines and locomotives, airplane motors, typewriters, car horns, cannons, foghorns, artillery guns, pistols. This type of sound resources were used in erudite compositions like “Parade” (Erik Satie), “Symphony of Factory Sirens” (Arseny Avraamov), “Pacific 231” (Arthur Honneger) and “Ballet Mécanique” (George Antheil) to incorporate the noisy atmospheres of modern life in the creation of music, following the principles of Luigi Russolo’s manifesto “L’Arte dei Rumori”, published in 1913. Also in the first half of the 20th century, Paul Hindemith, Ernst Toch, Edgard Varèse and John Cage used vinyl records, played backwards and with varying speeds. Radio receivers and tape montages were other noise disrupters introduced in the Fifties, either by the American indeterminist school fronted by the author of the series “Imaginary Landscape” and by the French musique concrète of Pierre Schaeffer.
These procedures changed the meaning of noise as «unwanted sound». Used in a musical context, the incidentality of noise becomes wanted. It’s a living paradox: noise is inserted into organized sound, just like the pitched tones conventionally recognized as music, but continues to seem dysfunctional and chaotic. Curiously enough, it’s John Cage’s “4’ 33’’”, conceived to demonstrate that silence does not exist, which marks the discovery that there’s no such thing as noise. The coughing, the murmurs, the unrest of the audience is the sound material of that infamous piece. The «unwanted» events are previewed, or «composed» in some way, by the score.
And yet, it was still impossible, then, to think about something we could call “noise music”, at least how we understand this musical idiom today. And it remained so after the appearance of a musical instrument invented by the three main genres of popular music: blues, jazz and rock. More than the fallible intonarumori, the noise machines of the Italian Futurists, or any junk percussion collectives and screaming/onomatopaic chorus, the electric guitar managed to represent – and to cover in terms of loudness – the extreme complexity of the urban, industrialized sound world we live in. It was with guitar feedbacks that another step was taken to contradict the savage, destructive, inhuman condition of noise. Lou Reed’s “Metal Machine Music” (1975) was considered by pop critics (of course!) one of the worst recordings ever released, but the truth is that it proved to be seminal.
When, more than 30 years later, the avant-chamber ensemble Zeitkratzer interpreted the ex- Velvet Underground opus with acoustic instruments, it was clear enough that the concept of music as – to use the terminology of informatics and communication sciences – «data with meaning» remained intact. Only with the development of computers and musical software we can acknowledge the effectiveness of noise music as a genre. At least because, for the present digital art, there’s really no difference between the creation of music as noise, or noise as music – in the granular synthesis domain, almost all sounds are artificial and assumed likewise, and in the experimental, exploratory fields of electronic sound art what matters most is the production of glitches, of system errors, of malfunctions. Why, or what for? Because, in its operative applications, cybernetics introduced a new kind of totalitarianism of perfection and the (political, but also for the simple sake of the game) motivation is to confront it…
Now, when even electric guitars try to mimic computer music, Luís Lopes’ “Noise Solo” goes back to guitar noise, in all its unclean and unesterilized quality. And goes back also to the improvisational procedures of jazz and rock, for a more immediate and intuitive relationship with sound («a combat between me and what I do», says the guitarist). Besides his instrument, Lopes uses only an old valve Fender Blues De Ville amplifier, a PSK distortion pedal, a Big Muff fuzz pedal, WahWah and Delay, with highs, middles, lows, volume and gain turned to the maximum.
This album is music, and is noise, against noise music. It’s the real thing against the machine theatre lead by Merzbow / Masami Akita and the electronic japanoise, or by Pita / Peter Rehberg and the Austrian scene. It’s the proposed equation before finding a solution to it. It’s Beethoven’s censured “Grosse Fugue” with punk sensibility and lots of Albert Ayler and Ornette Coleman ear training. It is what it is, the roar of a city, Lisbon, with no excuses.
“If the feedback and heavy distortion segments of Jimi Hendrix’s performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock 1969 were your favorite parts, you might be a noise connoisseur. The art of noise first described by the Italian futurists blossomed in the 1960s and was drawn heavily upon for the DIY and punk revolutions of the 1980s. Today, noise operates as its own separate genre but it is drawn upon by jazz musicians from the Brotzmanns (Peter and Caspar) to Mats Gustafsson and Elliott Sharp.
An artist like Portuguese guitarist Luís Lopes is capable of abiding in multiple realms. His Trio along with Adam Lane, the Humanization Quartet with saxophonist Rodrigo Amado and rhythm section of Aaron and Stefan Gonzalez, plies composed and free jazz with the ripped shards of skronk and shout.
Distilled to the essence, his sound is captured here on these two-sides of a limited (100 copies) 180-gram vinyl edition Noise Solo At ZDB Lisbon. Feedback reigns, but it is honed and fine-tuned into, not song, but cognition. This is not your dharmashala of rest and meditation. His “Noise Solo I & II” is a reverie of cascading screech and holler, applied guitar physicality and bursts of electric ebullience.
Where other modern noise artists rely on computers and circuitry, Lopes applies his craft like Hendrix. He coaxes sound from a strangled guitar neck, plies feedback from furniture and his own body, making his performance as much about movement and gesticulation, as it is about sound” Mark Corroto / ALL ABOUT JAZZ
“Portuguese guitarist Luis Lopes has been featured many times on this blog, lately with his Humanization Quartet’s “Live In Madison“, but now we find him back on this vinyl LP on his own, producing, as the title suggests, noise solo for a little over half an hour of sound and feedback and, yes, noise, with crunching notes in between to distort the feedback. The B side is more muted, with sounds reduced to short bursts, without resonance and length, compressed into bips and bleeps for the first half, then dissonant energy kicks in, with wah-wah and long screams of agony and pain. We know Luis Lopes as a direct and functional guitarist in his own bands, precise and just. Yet, on this albums he completely lets loose his inner voices and demons, a therapeutic eruption of suppressed emotions, a fuck-you of radical sound, a release of pure and unadultered noise, a liberating experience if you manage to participate in it, as the listener” Stef Gitssels / freeJazz Blog, by
“The art of noise and the art of solo guitar don’t always converge. With Luis Lopes’ LP Noise Solo at ZDB Portugal (001LPZ) it certainly does. . . in ways that make noise an art. I suppose the lineage of feedback, sustain and the reshaping and interrupting of high decibel guitar wielding via toggle switches and stomp boxes goes back to certain moments in Hendrix’s early work, a moment now and then in early live Dead recordings and in the presentation of early psychedelia in general. Luis gives us two sides of creative noise-making on the LP that show a sense of process and, through that, structure. It reminds and hearkens back to those first days of amplitude mind-melding.
This is one uninterrupted solo improv live in a Lisbon club. It shows the more radically avant side of the guitarist, who we’ve encountered and appreciated before in various free avant jazz-rock ensembles on these pages. This one goes from noise station-to-noise station, so to speak, in the way Luis sculpts the sound. Some may hate it but I sure don’t. It’s lovely, beautiful, extreme guitar, in a very electrically charged way. Kudos! If you like the margins of total skronk this is a great example. If you don’t then get out a Segovia record instead–or play them both at once!!” Grego Applegate Edwards / Gapplegate guitar and bass blog
“Een curieuze plaat is het in beperkte oplage uitgebrachte Noise Solo At ZB Lisbon van de Portugees Luís Lopes. Die is vooral bekend als een uitstekende gitarist binnen de vrije jazz, als speelpartner van goed volk als Rodrigo Amado en Gabriel Ferrandini en van zijn uitstekende Humanization 4tet. Daarin kan hij soms behoorlijk potig van leer trekken en de al energieke muziek een extra elektrisch randje bezorgen, maar dit album is andere koek. Heel andere koek.
De uitgebreide liner notes van Rui Eduardo Paes plaatsen het in een traditie van de eeuw die van start ging met Russolo’s essay “L’Arte dei Rumori” (‘The Art Of Noise’) en via (onder andere) Varèse, Schaeffer, Cage en Lou Reeds Metal Machine Music in onze tijd belandt met het machinetheater (geen compliment) van Merzbow & co. Deze opname wil daar tegenin gaan door terug te keren naar de basis. Geen digitale variant dus, maar een confrontatie tussen mens en instrument dat als geen ander als symbool kwam te staan van de geïndustrialiseerde maatschappij. Lopes doet het met enkel gitaar, pedalen en volume. Maar dat volstaat. Het album gaat van start met zo’n ‘blijft die plaat nu hangen?’-moment, waarbij gepiep eindeloos lang blijft duren. Het blijkt feedback te zijn, die met mondjesmaat onderbroken wordt door ingrepen, manipulaties die wringen, verbuigen en voor extreme dynamiek zorgen tussen momenten van ongestoord feedbackminimalisme.
De tweede albumhelft laat die piepende rode draad achterwege en laat de gitarist horen in de weer met een aantal gitaarbewerkingen. Die komen er soms haast stotterend uit, als gulpjes kapotte textuur, afgewisseld met stille ruis, maar worden gaandeweg extraverter, bruter. Hier en daar wordt geknipoogd naar de New Yorkse gitaarnoisetraditie, maar Lopes blijft ver weg van de werelden van doorsnee noiserock en kiest voor het terrein van ontregelde klank met overstuurde fuzz, wahwah en delay-effecten. Het resultaat is, meer nog dan bij Comte, een puur klankverhaal dat kiest voor de abstractie (eigenlijk een contradictio in terminis, want Lopes gaat net zo goed naar de essentie) op een even halsstarrige als geïnspireerde manier.
Het album verscheen in een oplage van 100 stuks, enkel vinyl” Guy Peters / enola zoekt u magazine
“Luis Lopes is an adventurous guitarist based in Portugal. He plays free-jazz and improvised music and on this album he makes a solo foray into abstract noise with this spontaneously performed live improvisation from the ZDB Club in Lisbon. The music on this album is bracing and frequently exciting. Opening the album with an expansive drone, Lopes builds tension and excitement before finally releasing squalls of sound and great buzzing bolts of electricity. The closest analogue in jazz could be found in the work of Nels Cline, but the music is more at home with the likes of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music (which is critically reviled, but I love it) and the projects of Thurston Moore and Jim O’Rourke. Lopes sculpts the sounds he produces like a visual artist, bending and shaping it to fit his needs. At times he resembles a conjurer, barely in control of the powerful beast he is summoning. Whether this involves strong attacks of punishing noise or wailing feedback, this is an impressive album where the music comes out of the speakers in powerful shimmering waves. It is not just a blast of unbridled power, Lopes uses a great deal of dynamics that keep the music continually interesting. This cacophonous improvisation is not for the faint of heart, but open-eared music fans should track it down (LP Only)” Tim Niland / Jazz and Blues Blogspot
“Noise Solo” is an experiment in the directions and deconstructions of sound, genre and perception. The vinyl only release is intriguing at its heart. And reflective upon conclusion. While based on the idea of noise, the album keeps a serene calm throughout the evening. The opening movement is like a broken smoke detector being thrown down a well. There’s static. There’s chord changes. There’s passages that are portraits in rock extreme and finally there’s the element of adventure. In a similar notation that you have no idea what will come next, Luis Lopes delivers the unconventional solo album filled with found sounds and passage in progress. But in the end–Noise Solo is something for the listener to determine on their own. It’s an idea but also a free expression which will have a different effect on each listener. Not for the faint and heart. But rewarding for those who take the ride. With Live In Madison and Noise Solo, Luis Lopes has demonstrated two aspects of his arsenal that I’ve always enjoyed. The sense of creative musical thought and excellent collaboration. Two exciting new records well worth your investment. Get out there and pick them up” Stephan Moore / JazzWrap
“Hendrix redescendu sur terre trouverait sans doute quelque vif intérêt à ce vinyle de guitare saturante. Il constaterait avec amusement que les vieux vinyles noirs résistent corps et sillons au ridicule CD. Et même qu’il embaucherait sur le champ Luís Lopes, ce guitariste riche en sustain et en distorsion. L’exercice a été profitable, penserait-il alors : « Django et moi avons ouvert la voie. On m’a aussi parlé d’un certain Derek B. Il va falloir que je me mette à la page. Cet étonnant Lopes me renseignera sans nul doute ». Voilà ce que penserait Hendrix aujourd’hui. Il se délecterait de ces sons sales, contrariés, contrariants. Il écouterait ce sustain se fracasser contre des grillages rouillés. Il comprendrait ce schéma évolutif partant d’un drone (un mot nouveau pour lui) pour s’en aller enchâsser des chaos extrêmes. Il mettrait quelques minutes à interpréter les silences et les impacts soniques (encore un vocable à découvrir) du début de la face B. Puis, ravi des frappes fatales qui ne cesseront de s’affronter par la suite, il téléphonerait à son manager pour lui proposer un duo avec cet allumé lusitanien. Mais se demanderait aussi le pourquoi de toute cette hargne-violence, de toute cette colère. D’autres Vietnam sans doute…” Luc Bouquet / Le son du grisli
“O guitarrista Luís Lopes tem-se apresentado em diversos contextos, entre o jazz e a improvisação, com um permanente espírito rock. Com Adam lane e Igal Foni gravou em trio What Is When (2009). Reuniu um quinteto com Joe Giardullo, Sei Miguel, Benjamin Duboc e Harvey Sorgen para gravar Afterfall (2010). Gravou o Lisbon Berlin Trio com Christian Lillinger e Robert Landfermann (2011). Mas é sobretudo ao leme do seu Humanization Quartet, que reúne Rodrigo Amado e os irmãos Stefan e Aaron González, que mais se tem notabilizado. Editou três discos: um homónimo de 2008 pela Clean Feed e duas edições da sueca Ayler Records: Electricity em 2010 e já este ano saiu Live at Madison. Em paralelo, Lopes tem-se apresentado em concertos a solo, exclusivamente dedicados à exploração noise. Este disco regista dois desses concertos na Galeria ZDB, em Lisboa, em Abril de 2011 e Janeiro de 2012. O material utilizado é simplesmente a guitarra e amplificador. Lopes diz que cada um destes concertos é “uma viagem”. O resultado é um feedback contínuo, continuamente trabalhado, direccionado, conduzido. Sempre no vermelho, é uma experiência limite, despida na sua essência eléctrica, sem a maquinaria típica do noise japonês. É uma verdadeira aventura, mas apenas aconselhável para quem não tenha medo de mergulhar no vazio. Esta música é uma imersão para fora da realidade, para lá do previsível” Nuno Catarino / Bodyspace
“Luís Lopes is a Portuguese guitarist whose work is grounded in rock, funk and free jazz, but it’s often his electronic conception of the instrument that comes to the fore, a knack for unlikely accompaniments that can include quiet noise and singing quarter-tones and solos that are marked by thoughtful construction and a reflective depth that can suggest the plaintive wail of a shakuhachi. His empathetic play has distinguished some international dialogues on the Clean Feed label, like Afterfall (which includes American saxophonist Joe Giardullo and French bassist Benjamin Dubo) and What Is When (with bassist Adam Lane and Israeli drummer Igal Foni).
Noise Solo at ZDB Lisbon recalls for this listener a 2012 walk-through of an exhibition of radical musical instruments at Lisbon’s Cultural Centre of Belém. It included examples of the Italian futurist Luigi Russolo’s intonarumori, an ondes Martinot – the eerie electronic keyboard that distinguished itself in Messiaen’s Tarangalila Symphony – and, of most immediate relevance, the guitars and amplifiers used for Lou Reed’s noise epic Metal Machine Music. It’s a century-long tradition of sonic experimentation that Lopes invokes, distinguishing himself from the majority of feedback guitarists by the constructivist patience of his work, his fondness for the infinitesimal microtonal shift in a wailing sustained tone, for the development of rhythmic patterns as one sound is played against another, and for the sense of sustained design. It’s fundamentally meditative noise that Lopes practices, exploring perhaps feed-forward as well as feedback in the ecstatic creation of a timeless trance” Stuart Broomer / Point of Departure
“Guitarist Luis Lopes has appeared on a few CDs released by Clean Feed, the Portuguese label that in recent years has become a sort of reverse Marshall Plan for jazz. But it turns out that when he isn’t playing Arthur Blythe tunes with Rodrigo Amado and the Gonzalez brothers, he’s working out his affection for Metal Machine Music. Or maybe it’s the intro to the Gang Of Four’s “Anthrax” that’s been turning his crank? The two performances on this LP, each recorded at the ZDB Gallery in Lisbon, have a bit of Andy Gill’s trebly savagery about them, and that’s always a good thing. On side one, however, one wishes for a bit more of Gill’s pith; the noise is bracing, but on account of the bloody-minded persistence with which it pursues a rather narrow band of noise, it could afford to be a little briefer. On the other side he throws in a bit of Ron Asheton wah-wah grit, and also a bit more restlessness; that’s the one that keeps me coming back. This self-released document of Lopes’ dark side comes on 180 gram black vinyl, encased in a full-color sleeve adorned by a painting that looks more like my notions of rural Norway than anything in Portugal” Bill Mayer / STIL SINGLE