This new, intriguing release from Colombian avant-garde guitarist/composer Arturo Parra is, at times, quite startlingly fearsome and terrifying; I kid you not, this is no exaggeration!
After obtaining his master’s degree in music at the University of Montréal, Parra determined to extend well beyond the “traditional” boundaries of guitar playing and devised some fifty new guitar techniques to enable him to produce the effects required from his compositions. The CD is sub-titled “Pieces for Guitar and Vocal Expression”, the concept being that the music is a symbiosis of various human sounds and the various resonances the guitar is capable of producing. As the two sounds merge together, other sounds seem to develop and the effect is uncanny, at times verging on the supernatural.
Each of the four tracks (played continuously, without any silence between them) are representative of the four elements: earth, fire, air and water, a notion which is not innovative at all, but I doubt if the concept has ever been produced quite like this, certainly not on the guitar. Each movement is split into three segments with the middle one being the lengthiest and most crucial part of the work. The reading and absorption of the lengthy and highly informative sleeve notes are a must if one is to get to the heart of this music.
This programme is not in any way easy to listen to, it is stunningly “dark” a lot of the time, but in the right frame of mind there are surreal worlds to be discovered in the midst of all the cacophony and sound conflictions which are as mesmerising as anything else I have listened to in this ultra-contemporary style.
There is some extraordinary writing here which I found absolutely fascinating, but fascinating in the way one finds oneself watching a catastrophe on the news. Faint hearted readers may be advised to approach Voz with caution and most certainly to listen to with all the lights on and a stiff drink within easy reach. I can only say that I found this disc to be unlike anything else I have in my recorded music collection, certainly a challenge to listen to, but not entirely unappealing in an unexpected kind of way.