Memoria Uno – school’s out for summer

Memoria Uno #12 at Sala Fènix – 14th July ’16

Oriol Roca (drums)
Àlex Reviriego (bass)
Marcel·lí Bayer (‘bass-er’ clarinet)
Luiz Rocha (bass clarinet, voice)
Jordi Santanach (bass clarinet
)
Naná Rovira (bass clarinet)
Marcel Bagés (electric guitar)
El Pricto (clarinet, duck call)
Ilona Schneider (voice)
Tura Gómez (dance)
Johannes Nästesjö (bass)
Sarah Claman (violin)
Iván González (conduction)

Despite June’s performance being billed as the season closer, here we are again for a bonus Memoria Uno event and, as ever, we’re offered something a little different to any other performance: a gradually expanding roster (we start with seven and finish with twelve), and a hitherto unseen dancer (with MU, at least), Tura Gómez.

The theme for tonight is clarinet or, as the poster would have it, “Clar i Net” which roughly translated from the Catalan is, “Clear and Tidy”. More MU humour, I suspect. A ‘tidy’ spontaneous improvisation? Well, maybe…

Anyway, the ensemble begins as a compact 7-piece – Oriol Roca, Àlex Reviriego, Marcel Bagés, Luiz Rocha, Naná Rovira, Marcel·li Bayer, Jordi Santanach, plus Iván González’ conduction – and after the initial avalanche of sound, we fairly quickly settle into a guitar-bass-drums groove over which the reed frenzy continues eventually resolves as a two-note repetition that centres the audience, anchors the ear and brain, and creates space for a parade of subtleties: arco bass played high, tiny rolls and mini-flourishes on the drums, randomised wah-wah guitar, a sonorous solo from Bayer (whose bass clarinet is bigger than everyone else’s – naturally, size isn’t everything but this is approaching contrabass depths and Bayer makes the most of it)… the devil is in the details and despite the air conditioning it feels hot enough for him to make a guest appearance.

Enter El Pricto, and we now have a range of five clarinets of various lengths – the four bass types lock into a sinister 3-note unison riff while El P circular breathes his way into the picture. Add a few washes of fx-laden guitar, an arco bass drone or two, and some muted cymbal work = instant composition.

Now Ilona Schneider steps up. Against the multi-reed backdrop, she picks up the notes and vocally twists and juggles them into new shapes; a prolonged extemporisation, never pausing, never overwhelming, a lesson in unexpected sound.

Additional guests are coming thick and fast; cue Tura Gómez. Starting out balletic, with almost tai chi-like speed and control, Gómez ducks and spins in a circle of silent clarinets (giving the whole thing a slightly ritual appearance, as if commissioned by Lord Summerisle); not so much a visual interpretation of the overall sound, more a terpsichorean contribution to it.

After a brief pointillistic, fragmentary passage (low-volume fractured clarinet riffs, surface-skipping vox, intermittent mallets on the drums…) the first conduction ends in miniature bursts of chaos (including El Pricto in a Zorn-ish mood on duck call).

For the second ‘movement’, the strings are augmented with Johannes Nästesjö arrives on second bass and Sarah Claman on violin, providing a nice addition to the sonic flavours on offer. This second section is shorter, pulsing islands of sound interspersed with bubbling free-for-all passages, including some additional vocals from Luiz Rocha.

Heavy on the reeds and (perhaps due to Bagés’ guitar work) quite the avant-rock vibe – positively ‘instru-metal’ at times.

Take a break, enjoy the summer. No doubt there’ll be some fresh Memoria Uno recipes in the autumn…

(The usual awesome pics from Elena Márquez can be found right here and similarly exceptional images from Joan Cortès here.)