Melding inside-and-outside piano explorations with the pulsations of a randomly tuned shortwave radio or with pre-recorded ambient sounds issuing from four CD players, Jorge Lima Barreto creates an altogether unique, double-barrelled program here. A veteran Portuguese pianist, academic, and sonic conceptualist, who helped found Telectu, his country’s pioneering experimental musical ensemble, Barreto does more than present a solo piano recital. His keyboard and string-set strategies react alternately to cloudy and crackling radio vibrations in Zul or replications of woodland animal cries in Zelub—both recorded live.
Polarized keyboard creations are heard in Zul’s five sections. Baretto’s playing ranges from chamber-music-styled nocturnes featuring languid portamento sweeps to driving fortissimo chording and high-frequency cadences piled on top of one another. They counter warbling, twisted static oscillations or sudden interjections of deejay chatter or crowd noises.
Pastoral, but not bucolic, the four-part Zelub is awash with echoing-aviary twittering and chirping, plus the growls, snorts, and yelps of feral animals. These complement the pianist’s showcasing of his instrument’s tones and colours: jagged soundboard rebounds, low-frequency percussive dynamics, and parade-like syncopation.