Signal To Noise

Seven years past its inception, Rafael Toral’s Space Program is here to stay. This record is his third volume of improvisations with other musicians, and while the participants may not be as famous as some on the previous editions, they’re the most closely and consistently attuned to what this music is about.

Toral’s Space music has distinct sonic and methodological qualities. Working with home made and hot-wired electronics, he plays stuttering, sharp-edged sound-bursts that are necessarily birthed from physical action — Toral’s no mouse-clicking laptopper. And while it rarely sounds much like jazz, it’s inspired by jazz’s wedding of improvisation to structural discipline.  Ironically the jazz Toral gets closest to is one he probably wouldn’t own up to liking. Volume III begins and ends with tracks that recall the dawn of fusion, back when it still had some wildness. The wig-flipping ejaculations that emanate from his oscillator on “III.I” surf the swell of Alfonso Simões’ drums much like Hendrix might if he’d laid down some jams with Jack DeJohnette c. 1974; joined by Riccardo Dillon Wanke’s savage stabs at a Fender Rhodes keyboard, the same pair sound like some lost emanation from an early 70s Miles Davis combo that left earth, picked up a few new tones and intonations at some stellar club, and just got back for us to hear.

In between, Toral works almost exclusively with percussionists. César Burago, Victor Gama, Tatsuya Nakatani, and Marco Franco’s widely varying approaches to space and accentuation keep the Space music from becoming predictable, while the shared physical provenance of their sounds and Toral’s makes it intimate and immediate.
Bill Meyer, Signal to Noise (Summer Issue)