Your Flesh

A collection of solo performances and duets that the Portuguese guitarist Toral recorded from 1994 to 1996. Chasing Sonic Booms highlights both the strengths and weaknesses Toral works with. I believe toral’s Wave Field album, with its shimmering drones, is his best relaese, an album where Toral digs deep into a particular form and wrings the most out of it. As a collection of improvisations this album is bound to have its weak points. Most occur when Toral and his partners run into a dead end of squiggles and squawks that pile up over themselves. That’s how it goes with the violin-guitar screech of “Skyrocket” or the careening electro-tones of “Aardvark” or “X-1.” It makes things hard to get through at times. Its best points, the subtle interplay with Jim O’Rourke’s accordion during “Blackbird,” the guitar duet with Manuel Mota on “Concorde,” the unfolding fronds of “Firebee Drone,” are all more engaging and enjoyable. It’s a matter of personal taste, but this is the stuff I go to when I want to hear the best of Rafael Toral’s material. As an introduction and as a summary of his approach to making music live, Chasing Sonic Booms is a good Rafael Toral primer. The best is definitely yet to come for Toral; if this CD and the Dexter’s Cigar reissue garner him a higher American profile, future recordings will hopefully be available stateside.
Bruce Adams