The Wire

Rafael Toral launched his ‘Space Program’ in 2004. The series included Space (2006) and Space Solo 1 (2007) as well as a string of performances. Getting into Toral’s space theory is complex. He points out that the Program employs a “disciplined matrix of decision-making possibilities (and therefore not quite regarded as ‘improvisation’)”. But it’s unclear what system exactly the decision making relies on. If the ‘system’ is intuition, then surely it qualifies as Improv? Without getting bogged down in the tedious game of labelling, it’s safe to point out that the music is more informed by AMM and onkyo than, say, Subotnick and Stockhausen, which should give a rough idea of the universe in which it belongs.

The album employs an intriguing combination of electronic instruments (detailed painstakingly on the sleeve: “glove controlled computer sinewaves”, “modified MT-10 amplifier”) and more traditional instruments like violoncello, percussion instruments, flute (played by David Toop) and electric double bass. The music is gracious and restrained, with opulent use of space (sorry) around each note. Throughout the record you barely hear more than three instruments played at once, the busiest being “I.VI” which uses fiery “ribbon controlled sinewave bursts” and jittery “delayed and filtered empty circuit”, the result here is not a million miles away from The Clongers. But with the rest of the album, the sounds are beautifully executed with immaculate precision and intimately recorded. Perhaps it’s the title, but it’s impossible to listen to without the brain conjuring up images of space and imagined conversations of alien beings, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Anne Hilde Neset