TIMESPINE is a string instrument project by Adriana Sá, John Klima and Tó Trips. It explores graphic scores, which provide indications with respect to the dramaturgical sequence and the vocabulary of each musician, leaving other aspects open to free interpretation. The first album stems from an apparently improbable encounter of three different musical styles. With the second album, the creative question was how the music could maintain its idiosyncratic identity and simultaneously be something totally different.
The composition in this album has eleven sections, as shown in the graphic score bellow (first picture on the left). Transitions matter. The requirements of digital distribution platforms fragment the piece in eleven tracks, adding one second in-between. This is helpful as a teaser. Yet the album gathers all sections in a single track, so as to stress the desire of providing a continuous listening experience.
The musical identity of this trio remains consistent with their eponymus debut album, released five years ago – exemplified by fluctuating tonal centers and the interaction made of convergences and divergences. And yet, its components are now more clear, because the music feels more transparent: it sounds an American folk music from another dimension in the multiverse, a folk music filled with twisted and bizarre – but very explicit – rock and jazz elements.
No wonder: the guitar is played by one of the top rock musicians in Portugal, Tó Trips, founder and member of the country-fadorock-jazz band Dead Combo; the bassist is John Klima, an intermedia artist from Redondo Beach, USA, for some years living in Portugal, who in the past was involved with the pop-rock group later identified as The Presidents of the United States of America; the zither, the electronics and occasional field recordings are manipulated by a veteran of Portuguese experimental and improvised music, Adriana Sá. She has specialized herself in the interaction of her instruments and body with reactive software, and once again we see this in “Urban Season”: her playing of the zither, with hands or bow, ignite all the electronic processing and found sounds as if by magic.
And magical, mesmerizing and mysterious the music is indeed, very different from everything else you heard before.
Adriana Sá: zither, reactive software (AG#3), field recordings,
graphic score, direction, mix and production John Klima: electric fretless bass and overdrive Tó Trips: electric guitar and percussion
The AG#3 software processes sound and image based on amplitude and pitch analysis from the zither input. Bellow is a video thst reproduces the sound of AG#3 without the sound of the zither. In performance, the image is projected over the musicians, working like a stage scene.
| Related research
Recorded by John Klima at ScratchBuilt Studios, Lisboa, August 2017. Mastered by Rafael Toral at Noise Precision. Executive production by Travassos for Trem Azul. Graphic design by Mackintóxico.
Thanks to Sei Miguel for his musical observations during the mix process.Thanks also to everybody who inspired the field recordings, and by extension, the audio samples processed with the software that operates based on the zither input: Phill Niblock, Shelley Hirch, Erin MacGonigle, Toshio Kajiwara, Katherine Liberovskaya, Melissa Lockwood and many others.
“Let’s just start with this: Urban Season is home to the most compelling use of field recordings this side of Steven Stapleton’s Nurse With Wound. Listening to US, I found myself physically leaning in in an attempt to uncover what in the world was happening sonically within its mysterious backdrop. Though the secret was never quite revealed, the attempt made for great sport.
The foreground of the 21st century string band Timespine is made up of zither player Adriana Sá, bassist John Klima, and guitarist Tó Trips, also of Portuguese band Dead Combo. There is a fascinating chemistry between the three musicians, who interpret Sá’s graphic scores with grand sensitivity and innovation. Though electronic manipulation is utilized in sculpting an inexplicable vibe, it never interferes with the fact that three musicians are interacting in a profoundly creative act.
Because such a substantial leap forward has been made from the Portuguese group’s eponymous debut release, also on Shhpuma, I can only imagine the volume of brains that will melt upon release #3. Excelente trabalho!”
The first encounter: ALBUM #1 released September 2013
This album includes two pieces, as shown in the graphic score bellow (first picture on the left). Both pieces were recorded in single takes. Piece 1 includes four sections, and Piece 2 includes three. Transitions matter, but the pauses inherent to the musical dramaturgy are compatible with the section chopping imposed by digital distribution platforms.
The first edition of this album is no longer available. However, all tracks can be listened on Youtube. For a continuous listening experience, it is also possible to download the entire Piece 1 and Piece 2.
This music does not fit under the umbrella of any musical genre. It would be a folk song if folk was a stream of consciousness. Add to that certain connotations of contemporary classical formats, and then subtract the mathematics, while also injecting a certain loose balance so characteristic of free improvised music. Yet again it’s just a distant impression, because they use graphical scores.This idiomatic singularity results from the gathering of musicians with different languages. Adriana Sa comes from experimental music and visual arts, having created and performed with custom instruments combining acoustic elements, software and sensor technologies. To Trips is a blues inspired guitarist, the co-founder of the unique and puzzling country-fado-jazz-rock band Dead Combo; and John Klima was a member of the pop group who became The Presidents of the United States of America, many years before their MTV days. String instruments are at the core of Timespine – a zither, a dobro, and a bass guitar. There are also occasional live sampling and percussion elements. But they service the flow of combining strummed, plucked, percussed, and bowed strings, all tuned unconventionally, at some moments acting like inconsistent drops of rain and at others suggesting the resultant turbulence of three rivers meeting. The river-meeting-music flows soft and slow, and abstract and in a non-linear way, becoming hypnotic and suspending time. This is a music without metrics, and without a clock – only human biological tempos are followed. The end result is a music that simply sounds great, as if Morton Feldman had a Portuguese guitar rather than a piano as the basis of his creativity.
"The tracks flow softly, slowly, in abstract and non-linear ways, gaining a hypnotic character and suspensing time". Hardmusica
Since 2013, Timespine performed in Lisbon (Chiado Museum, Culturgest, Maria Matos Theatre, Trem Azul, ZDB, POGO Theatre and Bairro Alto Theatre); in Porto (Rivoli Theathre); in Coimbra (Salão Brasil); in Tomar (Festival Bons Sons); in Caldas da Rainha (Silos Contentor Criativo); and also in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil (Festival Novas Frequências).