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Alfredo Costa Monteiro


CD (E174)

Belgium £13 (including postage)

Europe £15 (including postage)

Rest of world £17 (including postage)

Edition of 200 copies

A multi-channel composition for electric organ, commissioned by L’ull Cec for 

The Game of Life Foundation’s spatialisation sound system (consisting

of 192 speakers and 12 subwoofers, using the Wave Field Synthesis technique). Performed on 20 June

2012 at Fabra i Coats, Barcelona.

This recording is the stereo version.


See also
Out of print


This disc contains a 40-minute stereo version of a somewhat inclement multi-channel composition designed to work 

at full effect in its proper context: that is, 

a spatialisation generated by a large number of speakers and subwoofers employing the Wave Field Synthesis technique during the playback. Perhaps Costa Monteiro’s [least] ‘human’ release to date, Insula is defined by constricting clusters in the overacute range, massive unresolved drones at times conveying an almost dictatorial disposition, and only

distant remnants of the primary source. No escape whatsoever towards even 

the slightest hint of decompression as 

the music retains its uncomfortably glacial behaviour.


The overall unfriendliness should not detract from the work’s value, securely set on the same high standards to 

which the composer has grown us used to. In recent years, Costa Monteiro 

seems to have studied John Duncan and Iannis Xenakis quite a lot: the vibrating physicalness suggests imageries between celestial and nuclear, striking apexes and quieter sections finely mingled. In spite of a lack of commonly
intended harmoniousness — I’m 

referring to untrained ears, needless 

to say — one enjoys the plasticity of 

the resonating structures and the incisiveness of the processed organ’s upper partials. A state of imperturbable vigilance — enhanced by frequencies whose richness is proportional to their severity — is ultimately reached. Beyond the hypocrisy of elite radicalism tinged with unthreatening sounds, solely focusing on the implicit meanings – 

and, why not, the quiet menaces – of
emissions that do not necessarily look 

for an approval, Insula represents a 

brave attempt to express something 

less predictable than usual in the overcrowded area of today’s psycho-acoustic investigation.


Massimo Ricci at Touching Extremes

Originally created as a multi-channel spatialised composition heard through 

no fewer than192 speakers and 12 subwoofers, the piece has evidently
lost none of its broad scope in this 

stereo reduction. Monteiro’s language 

is indefatigably synthetic, his palette of sounds raw, from which he forms tight bands and clouds of beating frequencies, sometimes eye-wateringly astringent. Unlike so many composers of electronic music, Monteiro allows his material plenty
of time to speak, which in turn gives the listener time to scrutinise their qualities in considerable detail. This adds conviction to the steady evolution that
undergoes, passing from insect-like pitches to industrial drones and noise, from upfront and personal dynamic
affrontery to subdued middle-distance time-biding. Monteiro describes the work as one for electric organ, and that point 

of origin becomes much more apparent
in the second half, where austere chords penetrate the shimmering and bring it into focus, and later hovering in an uncanny sequence of wavering lines. 

But noise regularly punctures whatever certainties pitch seems to offer, initially 

in a squalling harsh wall, and finally
in a low throbbing band of something indefinable.


Simon Cummings at 5:4

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