Pour Alto Seul
Ausculto Fonogram, CD/digital (AUF004), 2019
Ruins become the unconscious of a city, its memory, unknown, darkness, lost lands, and in this truly bring it to life. With ruins a city springs free of its plans into something as intricate as life, something that can be explored but perhaps not mapped.
- Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost
Pour Alto Seul is Arrias’s first solo work. It came about as a result of a work period early 2018 and does not claim to provide a comprehensive picture of the artist, but is an exploration of more specific ideas. In eight tracks with strong musical identities Arrias explores the saxophone as a sole voice and sound source, and to some extent his own identity. The recordings create an atmosphere of being alone among ruins; a desolate environment, a harsh but promising and exiting place full of memories, darkness, obscurity and opportunities. If the approach to the work came from the interest in the saxophone in itself, resonance, sound, musical identity and expression, then the selection and post-processing turned out be more about Arrias’s personal identity and reflections on a varied background which consists of a grandfather from Surinam, who fled World War II, to unite with the grandmother from Pajala, in Jönköping.
Recorded at St. Jacob’s church and Fylkingen, Stockholm, February 12-13, 2018.
by Samuele Conficone , Music Map (Italian), verion in english below.
Recorded at St. Jacob's Church and Fylkingen in Stockholm, the debut solo album by Johan Arrias (out now on Ausculto Fonogram) is a splendid fresco of the path on which Arrias currently finds himself which, while not seeking to represent all sides of his musical identity, does illustrate his more recent concerns. Arrias explores the saxophone as both voice and sonic source, and this album is a marvellous study of the many souls this instrument can have, eventually leaving the listener with the impression of being alone among ruins, or in an uninhabited city after a nuclear disaster – but where destruction seems to prevail it is still possible to find the flower about to bloom, a sign of rebirth and resilience.
The album begins with 'Lament', a desolate and dramatic piece in which solitude and despair are highlighted as alluring poetic principles. Old remains that cross the listener's path emerge in 'Ruins', which comes across as a series of fragments rather than a single track. Images of funeral marches and scenes of apocalypse are conjured by 'Resonance' and 'Wind Variations', while 'Abandoned City' hides muses which seem to observe – distant and impassive – a scene of total emptiness in an almost metaphysical silence.
The saxophone is voiced through caresses, noises, whistles and vibrations. The splendid 'Abandoned City' is in this respect emblematic of the album as a whole. 'Wind Variations' and 'Impromptu' try to coax the fullest range of sounds – including the uncanny ones – from the saxophone; while throughout there is a palpable role-play between performer and instrument – something which explodes on 'Rivers', a track simultaneously perturbing, sweet and mysterious. The album finishes with a brilliant tribute to celebrated Italian composer Luigi Nono, simply and aptly titled 'For Luigi Nono'.
In addition to exploring the saxophone and attempting to stretch the boundaries of the instrument's vocabulary, the many genres and techniques that Arrias has encountered here coexist; and perhaps somewhat because of his own personal background (Arrias' grandfather is from Suriname), the album demonstrates a willingness to engage and experiment with 'world music' and sonorities of non-European origin.
- Samuele Conficoni, MusicMap.it
(transl. from italian - Eugenio Luciano, proof reading and adjustments - Jon Collin)