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Robert Montoya - "robert m"

Although Robert Montoya has delivered his debut album, this output sounds extremely professional. It can be considered one of the highlights of this year. Robert M has been active in the San Diego music scene for the past two decades as a percussionist, improvisor and sound artist. He was involved in Wormhole, a percussion-based improvisational ensemble, with long-time collaborator Marcos Fernandes and founded Trummerflora, a collective dedicated to creative music. And all this experience can be found on the debut album.

The combination of rhythmic elements, samples from field recordings and interesting vocal snippets works very well. Song titles such as Sinistre and Nebulosso indicate that a somewhat dark atmosphere can be expected, which is one of the strong points of the music.

Trance-inducing layers of warm electronics, mysterious voices (probably tv samples), mesmerizing dark ambient with loads of interesting sounds interwoven form the main core of the music. This excellent debut album combines the driving force behind the dance scene with the shimmering sides of flowing industrial. One can't help putting the volume up each minute.

     - Paul Bijlsma, Phosphor Magazine

Three stars = Solid) Robert Montoya plies hismusical trade in sunny San Diego, but you would never know it from his dark-lit electronic soundscapes. Evoking Autechre and other denizens of the Wartp stable, file these epic long-form compositions (one clocka in at over 14-minutes) under uneasy listening."

     - Alison Story, URB

The beauty of these tracks is that, while experimental and ambient to the point of non-structure (at least non-traditional structure) they still bear the personality of music. As much as anything, I could envision these as the soundtrack to a dark movie of some sort. At any rate, the expansive ambience of space music permeates throughout. Scattered mild textures also abound, diluted to the point that it is not harsh, but rather mellowing. But at the same time, elongated, seen through water technoish manifestations also make themselves known, providing sort of a minimal barest of bare skeletons around which the infinite unfolds. And while on one hand this is experimental audio, non-traditional music, whatever you wish to call it - possessing that otherness that is a hallmark of such music - it, at the same time, feels like everyday night ambience, like the sounds ofstanding outside a desolate farmhouse in the middle of a moonless, unlit night. Utterly consuming and captivating.

     - Kristofer Upjohn, Raves.com

There's nothing formal to be found on 'Robert M' (Montoya). Pieces start, shift, or just stop in an organic, unstructured flow that leads to a sometimes humorous, sometimes dark hybrid of ambient, industrial and tribal sound. The beats tend to be furious, although never escaping what Robert Fripp often and aptly refers to as "the tyranny of four". With one exception, the feel is loud and aggressive, repetitive and aloof, a rapid, frenetic wall-of-sound with a pace that can, over its 72-plus minutes, lead to listener fatigue. To appreciate what's going on here, take it in smaller doses--there are plenty of interesting ideas hidden in all the fury. The most characteristic piece is "Nebulosa 9". During the 10 minutes of Montoya's number nine, bits and pieces of John Lennon's "Revolution 9" bubble up, morph and disappear in thickets of sound, some processed, some source materials bolted and smeared over synthetics and sequenced percussion. It's the sort of collage technique Lennon used some 35 years earlier--though not as unflinchingly committed to sound and sound alone as the original--here revisited and updated for the digital domain. This approach to shaping music is always a tough one to evaluate, and saying anything more definitive becomes a purely subjective exercise, since the many techniques determine to be taken on their own terms. It's the result of processes that may seem completely obvious to the artist but keeps the listener at arm's length. Given that this is his first solo release and that the presence and force of the results are so convincingly deliberate, it's easy to assume Montoya knows exactly what he's doing. What will become more important is putting this into a broader context, and that must be accomplished by whatever he does next.

     - K. Leiter, e/i

Robert Montoya, or Robert M as he apparently prefers, has been active in the San Diego music scene for two decades. This disc marks his solo debut, and his creation is a billowy, albeit surreal, style of experimental noise music. Featuring a blend of tribal beats, shadowy samples and ethereal melodies, Montoya creates an enjoyably eerie listening experience. The tracks are long, ranging from the just over 14-minute "╔so, you come here often? (1:40 AM)" to "Landing Craft" at five-plus minutes, but each one is complex and you will notice something new every time you throw this disc on. With intended respect going towards the complexities behind each track, this is also a great release for anyone looking to add some ominous background music to their collection.

     - Mike Adair, Exclaim! Canada

Also from Accretions, another trummerflorista delivers a solo album - Robert M's self-titled release (alp036) is also reflective of the labels electronica rather than improv side. Long tracks here, allowing exploreation and development: ╔ you're soaking in it uses water sounds and a swirling scraping underbase for percussive loops to ply over, atmospheric watery interruptions and tones to combine the abstract and the beat: the basis of much of the album. Like Sinestra where slow mysterious ambient, including echoed voices, softly builds with sqrls and crackling with a subtle beat. Nebulos 9 and Goodbye╔ made me think of the Orb as the first built from swirling orchestra, tapping, gradual slowing down, noises and echos introducing a dubbish heart beat groove, or the sustained musical, swirl of the later. Darker ambient in Tio mate (with a voice through reminiscent of William Burroughs) and its companion Pastoral that opens the mood out, or the long and well sustained ╔ so, you come here often? [1:40am] that carries its development successfully over 14 minutes, before the spacey conclusion of Landing craft. A well crafted album indeed, that flies and lands very smoothly.

     - Jeremy Keens, & etc.

ROBERT Montoya ist einer der Gründerväter des Trummerflora-Kollektivs und seit zwei Jahrzehnten, nicht zuletzt mit Wormhole Effect, mrlectronic und als Partner von Marcelo Radulovich, ein Fixpunkt in der Avantszene von San Diego. Bei seinem elektronischen Solo robert m (ALP036) operiert er, ähnlich wie Holzborn, mit verunklarten Field- & TV-Recordings und Samples als Basismaterial, aber mit deutlich anderen ästhetischen Zielvorstellungen. Von seinen acht längeren Tracks geht ein Traum-Zeitgefühl aus. Mit dröhn- und pulsminimalistischen Wellenüberlagerungen formt er Klanglandschaften und suggestive Stimmungsbilder, die schon in Titeln wie ‚Sinistre‘, ‚Nebulosa 9‘ und ‚Pastoral‘ ihren Grundton andeuten, der Mood und Dark Ambient ausdünstet. Die Seelenweiden ruhen jedoch nicht meditativ in sich, die Wirkstoffe, mit denen ihre Atmosphäre gesättigt ist, dringen in den Blutkreislauf ein und entfalten, von Ritualbeats aktiviert, psychotrope Wirkung. In ‚Goodbye...‘ schwingen Orgeldrones über eine fiebrige Drum ‘n‘ Bass-Rhythmik. Bei ‚Tio Mate‘ hört man eine W.S. Burroughs‘sche Stimme knarren, eher lockend als warnend, während das Bewusstsein durch eine rauschende, pulsierende Yage-Vision taumelt. Montoya heizt die subtropische Schwüle beständig an, statt für Abkühlung zu sorgen, seine Pulsbeschleunigungen haben Treibhauseffekt. Die Temperatur beginnt erst nach Mitternacht zu fallen, bei ‚...so, you come here often? (1:40 AM)‘, ohne dass das pushende Getrommel aufhört, es ist nur gedämpfter und von silbrigem Klingklang umgeistert. Die Trance-Trommler verflüssigen die Sekunden in Schweißtropfen, in Dampf. Auch die Tracks fließen in Montoyas Jungle-Mix ineinander. Das Finale ‚Landing Craft‘ ist nur noch eine brodelnde Kulmination des Spurengemisches, ein spitzes Klingeln unter der Schädeldecke, ein Pulsieren, in dem Verzehr und Verausgabung kauen und mahlen, bis der Prozess mit einem abrupten Schnitt gestoppt wird.

     - Rigo Dittmann, Bad Alchemy

Ein äußerst spannendes Werk legt der in San Diego beheimatete Elektroniker Robert Montoya vor. Die solistisch eingespielten 8 Stücke sind in der überwiegenden Zahl episch angelegt und damit sehr lang, so dass die CD auf eine Spielzeit von über 72 Minuten kommt.

Seine Discographie kann sich sehen lassen, er ist Gründungsmitglied des losen Trummerflora-Collectives, aus dem heraus inspirierte und begabte Musiker immer wieder für Überraschungen sorgen. "robert m" ist sein Solodebüt, das viele spannende Facetten hat. Da sind phonographisch aufgezeichnete Sounds zu hören, Stimmenfetzen, bohrende, fließende Electronics, die fast schon psychedelische Qualitäten haben, wenn sie auf nebulösem, stetem Rhythmus wie der Soundtrack zum Tanzen klingen. Von einer Düsternis und Schwere, dass dieser Sound auch einem Dokumentarfilm über die Schwerindustrie dienen könnte. "Sinestre" mit seinen 10 quälenden Minuten ist so ein Stück, von lähmender Spannung und sich voran wälzender Maschinenschwere, ein Nerven zerfetzender, genialer Mix aus IDM, Dark Ambient und Tribal-Industrial.

"Nebulosa 9" beginnt fast symphonisch. Da sind tonale Fetzen zu hören, die von "Revolution Nr. 9" von den Beatles ("White Album") stammen. Wieder diese dramatische Düsternis und Wucht. Unglaublich, wie diese Stimmungen so überzeugend und hinreißend entworfen worden sind! Wie macht robert m das nur? "Nebulosa 9" ist ein guter Titel für diesen Song, das ummalt dieses ungewisse Moment entsprechend. "Goodbye…" im Anschluss ist ein nervöses Stück, dessen Töne wie unkontrolliert entfliehen, um bald von einem episch-lyrischen Motiv eingefangen und weich ummantelt zu werden. Das fließt in "Tio Mate" ein, einem träumerischen Stück, dessen gesampelte Stimmen über einer im Off verhallt wie von Jimi Hendrix radikal verzerrt gespielten Gitarre klingt. Die Songs sind ungemein facettenreich, wenn auch ihre epische Struktur harmonische, melodische Wechsel nur fließend zulässt.

Der Höhepunkt der CD findet sich im 14-minütigen "…so, you come here often? (1:40 AM)". Wenn sich auch im Laufe der Minuten ein etwas lauter Rhythmus einmischt, macht doch gerade dieses Stück klar, wie vielfältig die Einflüsse von robert m sind. Dazu gehört ganz sicher Rockmusik der 1960/1970er Jahre. Hier zeigen sich auch die abstrakten Vorstellungen von robert m. Spacig verhallte Töne wie Weltraumglitzern, dazu Motorengeblubber, als kochte das Öl in einem riesigen Schiffsmotor, der schwerfällig und seltsam durch die Sternenwelt knattert. Das hat ungemein Lyrik und einen musikalischen Tiefgang, der erfahren werden will. Robert m ist ein ausgezeichneter Komponist und Arrangeur, der die wunderbare Gabe der Phantasie mit Herzenslust ausnutzt, und eine Electro Avantgarde schafft, für die heute viele wohl noch nicht reif sind. Meilenstein, Pflichtprogramm, unbedingte Empfehlung!

     - Volkmar Mantei, Ragazzi

Robert M(ontoya) e Damon Holzborn sono entrambi musicisti provenienti dal circuito indipendente della Bay Area e condividono da tempo la militanza all’interno del mega-collettivo di musica creativa Trummerflora. I nomi dei protagonisti non suoneranno nuovi ai lettori più attenti di sands-zine, vista la loro presenza all’interno di “Rubble 1”, la compilation accreditata all’intero ensemble californiano e approdata poco meno di un anno fa per questi lidi. Percussionista e improvvisatore, attivo nella scena impro–jazz di San Diego da oltre un decennio: Montoya con questo full lenght cambia registro stilistico improntando una scenografia sonora elettronica. Una sterzata nell'animo del ‘digitale’ ben delimitata, dove il tratto caratteristico della musica si distoglie da quello solito dell’autore, il quale, a risultato ottenuto, non dimostra di saper restare troppo a lungo distante da superfici – elettro – acustiche classiche, senza incappare in piccoli deja vù. Ragion per cui: chi nella raccolta aveva trovato intrigante il triangolo elettro-acustico formato dai Mrlectronic, M in compagnia di Lisle Ellis e Marcos Fernandes, resterà un tantino scottato nel constatare un mood elettronico, a tratti pacato e a tratti agguerrito, modellato secondo soluzioni scontate. You’re Soaking In It, Nebuloso 9, Tio Mate sono attimi che condividono queste ‘flebilità’, ma svelate da un utilizzo sfarzoso di correnti ritmiche etnico-tribali. Non resta che evidenziare la larga veste che ammanta un po’ tutto, tessuta da registrazioni ambientali. D’altra stazza, invece, si mostra Damon Holzborn, meno legato ai perbenismi del collega, interessato alla creazione di rumori ‘smussati’ senza troppa precisione, né grazia. Gli studi giovanili, tra l’improvvisazione di George Lewis e la contemporanea del MEV Frederic Rzewski, come piccoli spiritelli impazziti, percorrono tutto l’humus di “Adams & Bancroft”. Una percezione, a prima vista, intuibile nella (ipotetica) logica che lega in un unico blocco tutte le 15 tracce del disco. Una salita intrapresa con piccoli taglia e cuci di suoni, quasi del tutto urticanti - Adams & Bancroft I , Summit, Roll, l’analogica melodia di DDDp - che nel progredire acquistano compattezza – Adams & Bancroft II e Clutch, sino alla creazione di inconsuete suite minimaliste - DDDsc, fugace ‘parodia sintetica’ del Terry Riley di “In C ”. Un gioco che, tra sali e scendi, prosegue per tutta la durata di un CD dove, fatta eccezione per i tempi lunghi di 0/Radio, mix dai manierismi noise, tutti i brani viaggiano su tempi brevi. In California, forse complice il clima torrido, la corrente artistica legata alla sperimentazione stenta a decollare con l’elaborazione di un suono ‘proprio’, avvincente ed emozionante, che non sia legato alla tradizione jazzistica.

     - Sergio Eletto, Sands


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