Signal to Noise

Toral, on the other hand [as opposed to Fennesz – ed.], likes to serve splendor straight up. Once more the cover gives clues to what lies within; Heitor Alvelos’s photographs blend images of trees, power lines, and the sky with vibrant colors and twisting shapes that result from manipulations of photographic processes. Likewise, while nearly all of the sounds on this record issue from electric guitars, they don’t often sound like they did. The Lisbon-based sound painter works so much within the realm of signal processing that it’s a shock when, half way through the album, he first strikes some recognizable notes on “Optical Flow.” Not until the closing piece “Mixed States Uncoded” does melody overtake texture. But what gorgeous textures! “Desirée” resonates like the inside of a vast bowed wine glass, “Liberté” and “Energy Flow” drone like distant propeller-driven airplanes, and on “Quiet Mind” feedback mingles with sonorities so voice-like that they seem to issue from some celestial choir. So many artists aim for beauty and come up with mere prettiness; on “Violence Of Discovery And Calm Of Acceptance” Toral hits the target.
Bill Meyer