Recorded live, this album presents Lonberg-Holm in an intimate relationship with his cello, beautifully recorded by Joaquim Montes at Studio Namouche in Lisbon. Using a variety of extended techniques, he conjures a barrage of multiphonics, interwoven timbral excursions, and minuscule textural knots lined along the peripheral architecture of these pieces. Lonberg-Holm alludes to his music having a non-denominational devotional presence in his life, and this relationship is evident in these deeply personal improvisations. This is visceral playing: heavy, dry, honest, and unpretentious. Lonberg-Holm has performed in an exceptional number of free jazz and free improvised ensembles, not to mention with a variety of indie rock bands; one can hear this experience permeating the seasoned playing in these recordings.
"Over the years, I have made a number of solo recordings, some in studios such as the now demolished Airwaves in Chicago and the first ESS location (now gone as well), some in concert halls (e.g., Mills College), some outdoors (my father’s farm in central NY as well as the Florida Everglades), and a few at various homes I have lived in. Location has an obvious impact and my long and affectionate relationship with Lisbon inspired me to want to make a solo document there. I have recorded with a variety of projects at Studio Namouche in the Benfica neighborhood of Lisbon and love it. That was where I wanted to make this solo recording.
Anyone who has been to Namouche knows it is a magical place. A faded version of its once probably grand self, Namouche is a sort of small RCA studio A that somehow survived the tumults of the recording industry; it still has the right proportions and materials on the walls, floor and ceiling. Add in good mics, a mixing desk, and the very capable ears of head engineer Joaquim Montes and it’s about perfect.
I’ve described the cello as a “four string busy box” for many years but only recently did I realize it also acts as a “safe space” for me. Although the outcome of pressing the various levers is more unpredictible on a cello than a busy box, I still feel that if I follow the material where it wants to go, nothing can go wrong. It is an act of faith.
For many years, “religious” music has been a source of entertainment and inspiration for me. In spite (or because?) of my lack of religious identity I find beauty in many types of music for worship. Over the years, at different times, I have been obsessed with Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Buddhist musics, sermons and chants. While I sometimes fantasize about making a record of religious music, the only faith I can claim to have any real relationship with is Christianity and a recording of Christian music might be misunderstood so . . . I refrain. Instead, I like to think that my solo cello improvisations are a kind of non-denominational devotional music.
During the period when this was recorded, I was listening a lot to Alfred Reed. He seems to favor a very low A (almost A flat) and I experimented with tuning my cello down as a result. Some of the tracks are at that lower pitch and others are closer to A440.
Namouche has a very fine grand piano and a number of other excellent keyboards. They also have some derelict pianos. Most noticeable are the two in the front vestibule and the one in the live room. The short piano pieces were recorded using only the piano in the live room. Because such wrecks aren't found in most good studios, I couldn’t resist playing it. The juxtaposition of a derelict instrument and an incompetent pianist in a great room with excellent equipment was simply too good to pass up."
Vanessa Ague/The Road to Sound
Stef Gijssels/Free Jazz Blog
Eyal Hareuveni/Salt Peanuts
released November 6, 2020
Fred Lonberg-Holm - cello, unprepared piano
Recorded March 21, 2019 by Joaquim Montes at Namouche Studios, Lisbon
Mastered by Branic Howard, Portland OR
Artwork by E. Lindorff-Ellery
Photograph by Fred Lonberg-Holm
Letterpress printed by Small Fires Press, New Orleans