Nocturna Discordia #21 at Soda – 8th Apr ’15

Luiz Rocha (clarinet, bass clarinet)
El Pricto (piano, alto saxophone)
Amaiur González (tuba)
Jankely Félix del Aguila (drums)

As a preliminary, let’s turn to the dictionary… “discord”:

1. disagreement between people.
2. lack of harmony between notes sounding together.

Looking at the ever-changing musicians on stage, these Wednesday nights at Soda seem perfectly harmonious, not discordant at all; friends and strangers joined in a common purpose of free exploration. But the music they produce? If we take “harmony” as an essential component of conventional music then once a week, Soda is most definitely a temple to discord – dissonance, atonality, cacophony… all of it turned and channelled to a beautiful purpose.

And tonight? The low notes are mostly contained in brass rather than strings. El Pricto is about to demonstrate his ivory skills. A new name (to me) sits behind the drum kit. And the irrepressibly expressive Rocha awaits, clarinet in hand.

It’s little surprise that El P eschews conventional fingers-on-keys technique and instead delves into the piano’s guts – we begin with a harp-like intro, accompanied by the lightest of touches on the drums. González utters a series of deep moans, and Rocha adds a mournful lament. If we had an old ‘60s horror film, this might be the perfect tension-building, nervous soundtrack: lower register atonality on the piano, jarring liquorice stick flurries, flailing twisted percussion, and González’ Kraken awakes. Indeed, as El Pricto changes instruments, there’s something a little ‘20,000 leagues under the sea’ about tonight’s spontaneous creation – a kind of cetacean mating ritual conducted between tuba and alto.

The drums are interesting – del Aguila’s sound is entirely flat, as if he’s playing in an acoustically dead room. Every note seems deadened. It’s unusual and absolutely perfect for the blown flights of fancy going on around him; providing a connection to ground, linking hallucination to reality – very sensitive accompaniment.

The second improvisation starts with Rocha droning and gurgling sin mouthpiece (a precursor to vocalising through the clarinet) as El Pricto does his abstract expressionist pianisms. The tuba throbs and swells majestically, while del Aguila interjects with contributions that are not so much a rhythm as punctuation. These nocturnae discordiae always offer something different, unexpected, but tonight’s combination is working (for me, anyway) even better than usual. These particular sonic flavours (and players) are resulting in a most wonderful alchemy! I wish somebody was recording this.

The third and final piece begins brutally – dissonant, abrasive, harsh. The flat metronomic beat from del Aguila frames a free jazz rollercoaster from clarinet and alto, while soft fat tuba calls provide a sinister foundation. Rocha and El Pricto begin a dialogue of truncated notes with fluttering bass commentary from González; and del Aguila adds subtle touches of temple bells, cymbal, and the gentlest of stickwork.

The yin and yang of brutality and delicacy – an effect I would very much like to experience again…

(http://www.soda.cat/).