SPECIES IN VARIATION
By Bernardo Oliveira
At the end of the first part of “La Mer” (“De L’aube A Midi Sur La Mer”), Debussy emulates the coming and go crash of the waves getting a dramatic effect by almost direct allusion. In this case, the sign operates in the logic of representation, serving as a reference for something else that is not (or is not yet) language.
Taking as an example the sound of birds in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic: instead of natural bird recordings, Hitchcock preferred to use sounds produced by synthesizers that express more than a reference, but an experience of displacement and estrangement. Where you expect the conventional sound of a bird, you’ve got an anomalous noise that intensifies the terror. In this case, there is the sign that appears as a pure expression in itself.
That’s what it’s all about when we hear synthesizers. It seems that we leave the field of safe experience that brings
us the representation, to penetrate, fly over or even excavate a tunnel to a completely unknown and indeterminate
Even though, by now, there is an immense repertoire of recognized and assimilated synthesizer sounds, there are still in this fascinating machines the power to establish new environments of signs, as can be seen in the recent works of Rashad Becker and, above all, Keith Fullerton Whitman.
Since they appear in the musical production scene, synthesizers prefigure an unknown territorial dimension. This effect of continuous displacement, Bartolo knew how to bring forth in his first solo work, (E)species, edited by Sê-lo label from Salvador/Bahia, Brazil.
(E)species has, above all, the characteristic of risking variation, giving up repetition as one of the general trends in
synthesizer music today. Demonstrating technical skills and repertoire of possibilities and articulations, Bartolo structured a sonic continuum full of dynamics, passages, timbres and historical references (the Germanic synthesizer of the 70s for example), opening a consistent – and, perhaps, unlikely – path for the music of synthesizers in Brazil and Latin America.