luc bouquet in improjazz

Wasteland comme une clairière esseulée où s'entreposeraient les restes des civilisations passées. Non pas des détritus mais des vestiges archéologiques parfois magnifiquement conservés, parfois endommagés ou incomplets. À l'archéologue-auditeur de reconstituer le puzzle. Mais cela ne sera pas facile because :

Rosa Parlato, Paulo Chagas, Philippe Lenglet, Steve Gibbs sont multi-instrumentistes et multi-directionnels. Leur musique est singulière dans le sens où elle ne se revendique d'aucune école. Elle ne sent ni la bricole, ni l'écoute studieuse. Elle n'impose rien, ne disserte pas sur les timbres mais intercepte l'instant. Elle grésille, fait se télescoper guitare acoustique et guitare électrique, elle pulvérise le bon sens, brutalise le convenu. Ces musiciens ne feront pas de longs discours sur l'écoute, l'improvisation collective après leurs concerts (que l'on espère nombreux) mais reconnaîtront sans doute s'être bien amusés. Sérieux comme le plaisir donc : improvisateurs sans retenue ni dogme, libres et conscients de leur indépendance, ils devraient de par leur belle autonomie se faire quelques ennemis. Et quelques amis aussi. Devinez de quel côté penche le chroniqueur.

ettore garzia in news on free

An excellent group of mixed nationalities: flautist Rosa Parlato (musician divided between classical music and improvisation rather active in France), Portuguese saxophonist Paulo Chagas (here we hear rather oboe and hichiriki), French guitarist Philippe Lenglet (here effects) and Steve Gibbs, 8-string classical guitar. It is no coincidence that the group is called Wasteland, an idiom that inevitably brings us in the first instance to the famous and desolate situations narrated by Eliot. This Wasteland is different of course in its de-contextualization of different themes that one struggles to describe. Through an inexplicable alchemy, you embark into a landscape of improvisation that feeds on disparate elements: I dare the unsubstantiated hypothesis when I say that Wasteland gives an essential role to antiquity, to stone and its cult organizations or iambus, displaying at the same time a possible connotation in terms of contemporary geographical measurement. Extensive use of winds (flute, oboe and hichiriki), oblique appearances of prepared guitars and odd techniques, toy sounds, water and vocal additions that call to mind Eastern Gagaku or Sanskrit texts, combining in some way the archaic and modern without diluting either (Cromeleque over Borobudur). Stone is also the matter that allows you to trace common guidelines: the jump is in religious practice, in shamanic forges and in a new context of society. Stone would also be a metaphor also for the recovery of past forms of prayer almost totally bypassing Western development (Motetus), or probable modern mythology portraying the events of the child in Règis Jauffret’s novel Claustria, abused by her father and forced to give birth seven times in a basement under the family home. The music of Wasteland manifests all these qualities in abundance: they call their improvisational “chamber noise”, appropriate because of the respect shown towards classical instrumentation, but the sounds also have an aggressiveness fully commensurate with the project, which brings together prehistoric music, Mayan temples, Derek Bailey and Schoenberg.

trybuna muzyki spontanicznej

Wasteland is another example of combining live and synthetic sound, here with a delicate advantage to the former. Flute, oboe, two dichotomic guitars and several coils of cables. A pinch of the exotic, slightly controversial vocals, sound games, but also serious discussion around all the above. A long disc (over 70 minutes), not always seductive for the ear (there is little compromise at the stage of material selection). Also, there are a few moments where sounds are accepted that, to this the reviewer’s taste, seem a little too easy. Let's concentrate on the plus side. The second track sports an unusual flute display against the backdrop of pouring water. In the next, a successful classicizing improvisation with well-suppressed emotions well in check (oboe in the main role). In the fourth, an intriguing new sound (the hichiriki?) over a background of nearly passive guitars. The wind sonorities give additional points to the final evaluation. In the fifth, a sequence of really successful electro-acoustic interactions. Also a good dialogue between the acoustic guitar and the oboe’s incantations. And in the final track, it seems that the whole quartet is dramatically melting! Academic influences evaporate, creativity and narrative ideas flourish. An interesting example of minimalism in the process of improvisation. A pinch of psychedelia on the fretboard of an electric guitar, some nice sounds from cables and non-obvious blues characteristics.

claude colpaert in illico mag

L’Italo-Lilloise Rosa Parlato (flûtes, objets, électronique, voix) et le Douaisien Philippe Lenglet (guitare électrique, objets) ont rencontré lors d’un festival de musiques improvisées (organisé à Bruxelles par Marco Loprieno, Pat Lugo et Guy Strale, et réunissant de nombreux musiciens), le Portugais Paulo Chagas (hautbois, hichiriki – hautbois japonais -, jouets sonores, eau) et l’Américano-Bruxellois Steve Gibbs (guitare classique à huit cordes, voix). Il n’en fallait pas plus pour que ces quatre-là aient envie de continuer ensemble l’aventure, aujourd’hui concrétisée par ce CD. Au-delà de quelques scories inhérentes à la démarche improvisée (qui englobe souvent la recherche et ses errances éventuelles dans le processus de création), WASTELAND séduit par les couples qui se créent (deux guitares versus deux soufflants), la variété des formules (questions-réponses par ci, mole compact et cohérent par là), les surprises (la voix gutturale de Steve) et le parfum d’ensemble aux fragrances lointainement médiévales (hautbois et guitare à huit cordes) et présentement inventives.

rui eduardo paes in jazz pt

Num tempo de cruzamentos das linguagens musicais mais diversas em contexto de improvisação, o quarteto transnacional formado por Rosa Parlato (Itália), Paulo Chagas (Portugal), Philippe Lenglet (França) e Steve Gibbs (Estados Unidos) traça uma transversal entre as mais opostas, no caso a música de câmara e o noise. Ao fazê-lo, dá corpo a algo de mais complicado de enunciar, pois o que ouvimos concilia o que pode haver de mais primário na criação musical, por vezes sugerindo as músicas ameríndias, com a complexidade trazida pelo que veio depois do pós-serialismo. E se os instrumentos principais que ouvimos neste “Wasteland”, disco que se tornou no nome do grupo, são a flauta (Parlato), o oboé (Chagas), a guitarra eléctrica (Lenglet) e a guitarra clássica (em versão de oito cordas, Gibbs), a eles está constantemente associada uma parafernália de objectos produtores de som, alguma electrónica e recursos como a água e uma hichiriki, flauta japonesa munida de dupla palheta, tocada pelo interveniente do concelho de Peniche. Ou seja, a caracterização camerística é interferida por elaborações tímbricas quase de “bricolage”.

Esse factor de “interferência” é essencial no que ouvimos e resulta do choque das próprias proveniências dos músicos: Parlato vem das músicas clássica e barroca, Chagas passou pelo rock progressivo e pelo jazz (na memória deste crítico está um concerto em que tocou temas de Charlie Parker), Lenglet fez todo um percurso dos blues e da folk até ao experimentalismo e Gibbs tem um preenchido currículo nos domínios da ambient music e da escrita para cinema. O que resulta não é propriamente uma fusão ou uma colagem de tudo isso, mas algo que incorpora a polpa de cada uma dessas contribuições, dispensando as cascas, os aspectos formais, e se situa mais além: uma música que regressa aos primórdios da articulação sonora para neles procurar um futuro alternativo. Se pelo caminho os Wasteland desafiam todos os cânones de beleza estabelecidos, é de beleza ainda que se trata. A beleza que imaginamos num outro planeta, como a floresta que vemos no início do filme realizado por John Coney e protagonizado por Sun Ra, “Space is the Place”.

jean-michel van schouwburg in orynx improv and sounds

Voici un quartet dont l’instrumentation est peu courante et la musique rafraîchissante. Crédités : Rosa Parlato : flutes, objects, electronics, voice. Paulo Chagas : oboe, hichiriki, sound toys, water. Philippe Lenglet : electric guitar, objects. Steve Gibbs, 8 string classical guitar, voice. Lenglet et Parlato sont actifs dans la scène improvisée lilloise. Chagas est un pilier incontournable de l’improvisation au Portugal dont j’ai retenu le travail avec un excellent Wind Trio en compagnie de Joao P Viegas et Paulo Curado. Gibbs est un guitariste classique spécialiste de la guitare huit cordes avec un sérieux parcours, interprète de Bach et de musique contemporaine. Wasteland : musique créée en réseaux de sons, de phrases, d’ostinatos, de détournements sonores, sons acoustiques et électroniques mêlés, différenciés, approches ludiques, extrêmes, contrepoints sauvages... Et surtout une excellente lisibilité, une cohérence dans la différence, une expressivité sans pathos, une inventivité sonore qui pointe son nez ici et là (comme dans Motetus). Sept compositions instantanées dont certaines culminent à plus de quinze minutes. L’expérience d’écoute que j’en fais est très positive : en fait l’ensemble, au premier abord « hétérogène », atteint une qualité qui dépasse largement la somme de chacune des parties et la pratique individuelle de chaque musicien. Déjà mêler le jeu de deux guitaristes dans un contexte librement improvisé n’est pas aisé et ici tout se passe bien.  Paulo Chagas, ici au hautbois,  est aussi flûtiste mais, sans doute, a-t-il préféré laisser l’espace à sa collègue Rosa Parlato qu’on entend aussi vocaliser de manière « bruitiste » dans le grave. En outre, le guitariste, Steve Gibbs nous donne un aperçu de son talent borborygmique dans les langages inventés, tandis que Chagas fait bruisser de l’eau ! Tout l’album procède d’une joyeuse et étrange invention sonore sans que  le groupe ne réutilise les éléments d’une formule / séquence  sonore survenue auparavant et ce qui passerait pour des incartades enrichit l’ensemble de manière créative. Philippe Lenglet et Steve Gibbs gèrent à merveille un panorama étendu de trouvailles sonores guitaristiques, alternatives, expérimentales, bricolées, trafiquées sans qu’on ait le sentiment qu’il s’agit d’un système … C’est dire que l’écoute et la mémoire sont au centre de leur activité. Il semble que la guitare de Gibbs soit préparée créant des intervalles distendus qui se marient bien avec les sons électriques de Lenglet et les effets de souffle de Parlato. Quand l’hautbois de Chagas se pointe, l’ensemble devient un peu déjanté. Un peu d’humour se glisse à un moment pour détendre l’atmosphère… Un remarquable art du dosage lequel, au fil des plages, crée un fil conducteur imaginaire, fictif alors que le groupe développe un remarquable démarche de groupe dont la musique se métamorphose insensiblement en se bonifiant. Wasteland : c’est le lieu où on jette les déchets, mais je crois bien que les quatre musiciens ont acquis l’art du recyclage. Remarquable !

interview with robex lundgren

Have any of you played in other bands?

We are all lifelong professionals and over our lives we have each played in so many projects that it would be impossible to count them with any precision. Personally I have been performing for around 50 years.

What are your names? / Who plays what?
Rosa Parlato plays flute, objects, electronics and voice. Paulo Chagas is a hyper-multi-reeds phenomenon, but in Wasteland he plays his main instrument, which is the oboe. Its penetrating tone, with its Baroque and shamanistic connotations, perfectly suits the Wasteland atmosphere. He augments it with squeals from his tiny Japanese reed instrument the hichiriki, plus sound toys and water. Philippe Lenglet is a master of prepared electric guitar, using all kind of effects and homemade objects. As for myself (Steve Gibbs), I play a custom designed 8 string classical guitar and also use my voice as a secondary sound source.

Where are you from, how old are you?
Rosa was born in Rome and lives in Lille, France. I don't have her age on record but in view of her very distinguished career I guess she couldn't be much under 40! Apart from Rosa we are all in our late 50s. Paulo is from Peniche, Portugal. Philippe is from Douai, France. I am a naturalized Belgian citizen, born in Chicago USA. 

Have you had other previous members?

No, this group is the original founding personnel.

What year did the band form?

2016, though some of us had played together before in other projects.

What's your style or genre?

Experimental, improvised, what in French we call “musiques libres”. In the Wasteland universe we call it “Chamber Noise”, as the sounds can seem violent and industrial but are made mainly with classical instruments in a close setting.

 

What inspires you?

Working.

 

How often and where do you rehearse?

Bands in improvised music are often international, so a couple times a year we have a short period together for rehearsing, recording and concerts. The rest is personal practice which of course is every day. I am lucky to have a rehearsal studio at home in Brussels that is large enough for a quartet, so we have been able to work there. Paulo also has access to various spaces in Peniche, Portugal, where he organizes a big international improvised music festival. So when we get some dates together in Southern Europe we hope to have a working session there.

How have you developed since you started with the music?

Wasteland’s collective chemistry was immediately obvious from our first concert. Subsequently, the studio process of making our album enabled us to discuss, evaluate and make choices together, so there we discovered a more analytical and verbal side to our relationship.  

 

Do you have other interests of work outside the band?

Each of us has other projects. Rosa is an electro-acoustic composer and does workshops in the social field; Paulo is a high school music teacher and runs an international festival plus several bands; Philo plays in numerous projects internationally but also works as an animator in a school; I am a classical soloist and musicologist and also work in a clinical context in a day centre for autistic children. We have all had periods of our lives where we lived exclusively through our musical activity, basically thanks to various forms of arts subsidy.

 

Are you looking for a booking agency, and what are your thoughts around that?

We would like to be represented by an agency, but it is very rare in experimental music. Wasteland are co-founders of a collective called Sounding Arts Collective that encourages interaction with artists from other disciplines and represents our various member projects via a centralized catalogue.

 

Are you looking for a label, and what are your thoughts around that?

Wasteland is indeed researching possible labels for our new album. We have some good leads that may soon lead to us having the right label for us. Having a label is obligatory if you want international distribution, press coverage and radio play (since this interview, Wasteland signed to Italian label Setola di Maiale).

What made you decide to make this music?

The desire to play together. We knew we wanted to work together and we somehow knew it was going to be good. From our instrumental configuration we knew it would have some aspects of chamber music, but were pleasantly surprised by the range of expression, the quirkiness, the darkness and violent energy that came out! Making a Wasteland album was always part of our initial project for our working session together but probably surpassed what we could have imagined. We are still very excited about the results.

What is your music about?

None of us play songs. Rosa and I use our voice in some pieces, but in an abstract, phonetic or nonsense manner. 

What language do you sing in?

Wasteland’s nonsense syllables sometimes come from French, German, Latin, Korean or Sanskrit texts, but purely for the sound.

Who does the composing?

Wasteland uses no composed material. Our noise landscapes come out of concentration in the moment and intuitive group interaction.

What are the least and most people to attend one of your gigs?

In experimental music the audiences are enthusiastic but small. It’s often 10 to 50 people. Everyone in the group has had some context like a festival where the public is 500 or a 1000 people.

What ages are most of your concert attendants?

In experimental music there is quite a good mix, it goes from 15 to 95. There is a new generation discovering improvised music through internet and there are also hippies and beatniks who were there in the original happenings in the 1960s.

Do you always play the same songs live, or do you vary?

Wasteland’s improvised music is never the same twice.

What was your first gig like?

Wasteland’s first gig was extremely fiery because we were very excited to be able to come from different countries and have time to play together. Our concert was in interaction with a live video environment by Belgian artist Gérard Daval. Things came together in such a way that we somehow created a very other-worldly atmosphere.

 

What was your latest gig?

We last performed in June, in the super Brussels theatre and experimental arts centre Haekem. As I say, like many groups in improvised music, we are international, so the travel logistics mean that we work by periods.

 

Have you had to cancel a gig?

Wasteland has never cancelled, but individually we have surely all had to do so when really ill. Of course you try never to cancel as it’s disappointing for everyone. I have even been on stage with chicken pox and a 40° fever.

 

Where have you played live this year?

Wasteland’s members have played in several European countries this year, but Wasteland only in Belgium.

 

Where do you plan to gig the coming year?

We hope to go set up some gigs in Italy and Portugal. There is also a possibility that the Sounding Arts projects will make a collective presentation in a Biennale in Osnabrück, Germany.

 

What have been your biggest obstacles?

Personally, being shy about contact work! I am not shy on stage and enjoy meeting listeners after the concert, but I am allergic to cold calling on the telephone. It’s a handicap! More generally, the opportunities to perform these days are probably diminishing. We have had to learn to take things into our own hands.

 

What advice would you give other bands or artists?

Keep faith. Enjoy working. Remember that we are privileged to be making music. Music can actually touch people spiritually, and is good for the whole person and for society. Dictatorships often repress or try to control music, so they are obviously afraid of something!

How do you get psyched for a gig?

Yoga, technical stretching exercises, slow practice of repertoire. When the band is together, we take a break during rehearsal and sound check and go for a walk to see a bit of the town where we are playing.

 

When did you start to sell merchandise, and what do you have for sale?

Individually, all of us have many albums to our credit. Concerning Wasteland, we have no merchandise but will do so when our album is pressed! 

 

What do you think about people downloading music instead of buying records nowadays?

It has some advantages, for example I have been able to present my complete life discography on a BandCamp page (at least what I decided to keep), in coherent albums, exactly as I conceived them. But there are unfortunate aspects too. Almost everyone today believes that “content” is free, they don’t know where it comes from and cannot imagine either the incredible amount of work involved, or the material and juridical expenses of producing.

How do you think the music industry has changed because of this?

CDs still exist, but very few now make a sufficient margin to pay artists, apart from the legal percentages of royalties etc. With most labels the artist contributes to the overall cost in some way.

Do you have any role models or idols?

Personally, yes, many! Arnold Schoenberg, Glenn Gould, Amjad Ali Khan, Balamurali Krishnan, Guillaume de Machaut, Captain Beefheart, Derek Bailey, (choreographer) Merce Cunningham, (film director) Andrej Tarkovsky, above all my parents …

Why do you think that they exist?

Humans learn their skills through imitation. Cognitive sciences tell us that learning is accelerated when there is strong emotion, so our idols inspire us to learn deeply. 

Is it easier to find inspiration from older bands, or bands that are more active today?

As a classical musician, my heroes go back to the 11th century and beyond. It’s always interesting to hear something that you never heard before, so I am also glad if I hear a young contemporary band that surprises me. For example, someone played me a recording of a Cuban voodoo rap artist who had maybe 50 pins stuck into his face. It was wonderfully violent! It's the same thing as far as Wasteland is concerned. Intuitively we have been formed by a sum of experiences in contemporary classical, rock, experimental, non-western music, all kinds of things! It all comes together in the overall feel of our music which can reveal classical, industrial and shamanistic aspects within a single phrase. What we hope of course is that every sound will be "Wasteland", nobody else could have played it. As one gets older, the time remaining in one's life to realize one's "opus" is clearly finite, so one does not want to waste time imitating anyone else. By now one's real influences have probably been “digested” to the point where we could no longer change them. Later in life we progressively "erase" what is not essential to our personal “truth”. What is left is “you”.

What are your plans for the future?

The next thing is promotion of our album. Also, a subsidy application has been presented for a Biennale presentation in Osnabrück Germany, involving Wasteland and the other Sounding Arts member projects. That could be a big artistic event.

 

Where can people buy your merchandise?
The album Wasteland by Wasteland is available from cult Italian label Setola de Maiale. You can preview it on our Sounding Arts BandCamp page.

Do you have something to add?

On behalf of Rosa Parlato, Paulo Chagas, Philippe Lenglet and myself, Steve Gibbs, for Sounding Arts Collective member project Wasteland, we thank you Robex for your invitation and for your very complete interview. The arts need people like you!

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