The Earth As A Floating Egg (CD)
by Jonathan Uliel Saldanha
Electrostatic soundscapes superimposed with the evocative qualities of operatic singing.
Spectral mass where brass clusters, choirs and strings, performed by an assembled cast of Porto's most prominent musicians, are arranged and reconfigured by multi-instrumentalist and composer Jonathan Uliel Saldanha.
Non-chronological narrative, elements of ancient Finnish and Babylonian mythologies, nymphs, ever-present ominous birds, alchemic methods in the tradition of King Tubby and Giacinto Scelsi: revolving in an illusionist's stage distorted by infinite mirrors.
- 1. Ornithos Haruspex (The Illusionist)
- 2. Nyx
- 3. Chasm
- 4. Rumor Is Listening (In Verto)
- 5. The Fall Of Lintukoto (Autophagia)
- 6. Ilmatar (Threnody)
- 7. Ereshkigal (She Is)
- 8. Transmuted
- 9. The Light Air Flew Up And Became Sky, And The Heavy Air Sank Down And Became Earth (Orogenesis)
- 10. The Concealer (Calypso)
- Álvaro Almeida - trumpet
- Filipe Silva - acoustic guitar
- João Filipe - drums
- João Martins - saxophone
- Jonathan U Saldanha - percussion, euphonium, flutes, keys, programing, objects and processings
- Henrique Fernandes - double bass
- Luisa Brandão - voice
- Rui Leal - double bass
Recorded at Doom Dub Studio (Porto) and mixed at Silent Block Studio (Brussels) by Jonathan U Saldanha
Mastered at Angstrom (Brussels) by Fréderic Alstadt
Artwork by Jonathan U Saldanha, Dário Cannatá and Dayana Lucas.
THE EARTH AS A FLOATING EGG
Dadaist avant-garde epic.
Jonathan Uliel Saldanha is a core member of the avant-garde music community in Porto, Portugal. With Filipe Silva, he runs Soopa, a record label and musicians collective, and works together with people like Damo Suzuki (ex-singer of Can), Steve Mackay (the saxophonist who became legendary through his guest role on The Stooges' "Fun House") and Mark Stewart (The Maffia, On-U Sound). Active in a variety of bands, for his solo work he often hides behind the pseudonym HHY.
For "The Earth as a Floating Egg", Saldanha is surrounded by strings, brass and choral singing. As a composer, he commands an army of musicians to shape the musical creations he has in mind. The title and cover instinctively refer to Dadaism, in which direction the inspiration for this release should also be sought.
A song like ''Rumor Is Listening (In Verto)", for example, relates to the sound poems by Hugo Ball in that voice is used not because of content but as a sound. Saldanha mingles sounds into a complex buzz and alternates this with birds singing.
But "The Earth as a Floating Egg" goes even further. Electronic sound blankets are interwoven with a range of other types of avant-garde creations so that a voluminous epic is created in which alienation is central. In almost exuberantly baroque compositions such as "Ilmatar (Threnody)", Angelo Badalamenti (known for the soundtracks of David Lynch films) and the Residents are not far away.
"The Earth as a Floating Egg" proves that historical artstyles can even today provide new impulses and appeal to contemporary audiences.
Hans van der Linden Kindamuzik
The Earth As A Floating Egg
Already active under the name HHY and producer for the project Mecanosphère (transnational collective which also involves Mark Stewart), the Portuguese multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Uliel Saldanha is an emerging figure in European experimentation. His is a composite sound that emerges perfectly in "The Earth As A Floating Egg", which combines musique concrète elements to orchestrate symphonic actions ("Ilmatar"), Ground Zero-style free noise and drones ("Ereshkigal"), tape manipulations and digital electronics ("Transmuted"). The album unfolds as a single fantastic narrative, among ancient Finnish and Babylonian myths, visions of diviners and alchemical traditions, with evocative and compelling results. There's a particular taste in the combination of the sacred (the radicalism of certain electro-acoustic experimentations) with the profane (some settings in a deliberately Grand Guignol style reminiscent of Scorn) and in the superposition of classical and informal elements, which accounts for the quality of this work, the result of a lucid control of sound and of a vast imagination.
Massimiliano Busti Blow Up Magazine
The Earth As A Floating Egg
The fact that the man has worked with Mark Stewart, Raz Mesinai aka Badawi or the Stooges saxophonist Steve Mackay, is no real indication of the music you'll be hearing on this album. Dub, Illbient or Punk Rock doesn't play any musical role. The operation of the Dubbers within the subsequent processing of musical material is somewhat more his thing.
Saldanha plays and processes live electro-acoustic instrumental sounds and recordings of classically trained singers with electronic sounds and spaces to create an exciting mix of sound pieces and new music.
Andreas Brüning DE:BUG
The Earth as a Floating Egg
The name rang no bell for me, so I had little expectations about this record - and that probably explains why it pleased me so much. A suite of sound collages made from composed and found elements; a strange, seductive assembly of contemporary music, traditional elements, disembodied singing, and calculated craziness - in other words: post-modernism. Abstract though not gratuitous, and full of surprises.
François Couture Monsieur Délire
The Earth As A Floating Egg
Demdike Stare: “Industrial Desert” (Demdike Stare)
Jonathan Uliel Saldanha: “The Earth As A Floating Egg” (Soopa)
If you intend to listen to these two albums reading, we have to recommend one of the titles of “otherworldly teaching” of that erudite of the imagination Patrick Harpur. When you get into an album by Demdike Stare –whether it is creation out of nothing, or in the form of a mixtape like this “Industrial Desert”, which is the continuation of “Osmosis”, another mix CD to scare the shit out of us– we inevitably think that we are surrounded by intangible beings, spirits, and fairies dressed in black. The duo from Manchester already masters the art of electronic witchcraft like nobody else, and between the first album (convincing and valuable, but still tentative) and the current trilogy that they are putting out on Modern Love, with these mixtapes as hinges, there is a notable advance in hauntology. This session, which steps on sacred ground continually until bursting out into a final flash of free jazz, is a pagan ritual in which industrial mysticism like Coil is joined to funerary ambient, shamanic rhythms and other darkness.
But with Demdike Stare there is always an order, a control that is not found in “The Earth as a Floating Egg” by the Portuguese Jonathan Uliel Saldanha (collaborator of Badawi and member of the project Mécanosphère). Here there is not only improv and elephantine neo-classical music, but also plays of drones, masses of strings, dissonant harmonies, and choruses from hell are wrapped in allusions to mythology, magic, lost civilisations, sun rituals, Babylon, and the Vikings. Normally, one has to be in favour of all of this.
Javier Blánquez PlayGround Mag
Soopa new releases - The Earth
O que tem o single Legba/ Houmfort de HHY & The Macumbas e H e x a c o s i o i h e x e c o n t a h e x a f o b i a dos Besta Bode em comum? Três coisas, ambos são singles em vinil editados pela Soopa, as capas são ilustradas e serigrafadas (a de Besta Bode é do José Feitor) e ambos projectos tem Jonathan Uliel Saldanha nas fileiras - e que também lançou em nome próprio o CD The Earth as a Floating Egg (Balleteatro + Soopa; 2010). Os três projectos antes de estar aqui com descrições dos géneros de música (ou as suas contaminações), o mais importante ainda é o facto de todas elas terem uma sofisticação, originalidade e produção fora do comum em Portugal, quer na música propriamente dita, quer na produção (gravação) e os objectos fonográficos.
Por fim, o The Earth (...) é um trabalho para uma peça de dança em que todos os clichés de Improv, Experimental, Electrónica, Contemporânea, Ambiental, soundscape, concreta são triturados num trabalho de grande nível em que ainda Jonathan consegue impor um excerto de Metal ou vocalizações de "ópera digital". É um disco "slow food"... Há que se ouvir com atenção e não enquanto se faz o pequeno-almoço ou se está a esfaquear um ministro. É um disco tão bom que acho que vou fazer uma limpeza étnica a uma série de discos em casa - este disco substitui muitos como a Fake Mistress, Brian Reitzell, KK Null e sei lá o quê... AH! Não sei porquê mas de alguma forma este disco complementa-se com as ideias do Most People Have Been Trained To Be Bored e como tal são dois que vão escapar às limpezas étnico-fonográficas!
Marcos Farrajota ChiliComCarne
Exploração electro-acústica entre o inferno e o purgatório.
O nome poderá não fazer tocar campainhas, mas Jonathan Uliel Saldanha (belíssima sequência de palavras) faz parte da activa cena underground portuense. Tendo passado por grupos/colectivos míticos como Faca Monstro, F.R.I.C.S., United Scum Soundclash ou Mécanosphère, Saldanha lança-se aqui numa empreitada em nome individual. Originalmente criada para acompanhamento sonoro à coreografia Alugo-me para Sonhar, uma criação de Isabel Barros, esta música de Saldanha agora editada é uma interessantíssima exploração electro-acústica, pecaminosa, algures entre o inferno e o purgatório, sem se deixar cair em lado algum.
Além do próprio Jonathan Uliel Saldanha, que aqui aborda uma multiplicidade de instrumentos (percussão, eufónio, flautas, teclados, programações e objectos), este disco conta com a colaboração de diversos músicos da cena local: Álvaro Almeida (trompete), Filipe Silva (guitarra acústica), João Filipe (bateria), João Martins (saxofone), Henrique Fernandes (contrabaixo), Luísa Brandão (voz) e Rui Leal (contrabaixo). O acompanhamento instrumental é uma ferramenta, entra pontualmente, está ao serviço da música (e não o inverso), nunca se sobrepõe. Saldanha serve-se de cada elemento sonoro particular para introduzir detalhes, acrescentar cores - sempre na escala de cinzentos, claro.
Aglomerado obscuro multi-referencial, este disco vive entre o corte e a colagem e abordagens minimais, roubando elementos à contemporânea subversiva ou ao dub submerso, nunca se fechando. Pelo meio surgem também formas mais clássicas, como “Ilmatar (Threnody)”, a aproximar-se de uma certa grandeza operática. Ora enfeitiçando o ouvinte através de um hipnótico silvo electrónico, ora através de uma fantasmagórica sobreposição de vozes, este disco nunca deixa de surpreender. Desta amálgama poli-estilística poderia brotar uma fatal incoerência, mas Saldanha escapa-lhe bem. Não vai ao purgatório, não cai no inferno, vive num misterioso limbo onde poucos conseguem chegar.
Nuno Catarino Bodyspace
Soopa releases special
É mais uma edição Soopa. Sem sair do universo de Jonathan Uliel Saldanha – depois de olharmos para Besta Bode, é tempo de apresentar “The Earth As a Floating Egg”. Figura com passado e presente em nomes como Besta Bode, Fujako, Faca Monstro, F.R.I.C.S., Mécanosphère, United Scum Soundclash e HHY, entre outros, Jonathan Uliel Saldanha apresenta-nos um disco que é um verdadeiro mistério.
São 10 faixas gravadas no Doom Dub Studio (Porto) e misturadas no Silent Block Studio (Bruxelas) pelo próprio Jonathan Uliel Saldanha. Com ele, também os nomes de Álvaro Almeida (trompete), Filipe Silva (guitarra acústica), João Filipe (bateria), João Martins (saxofone), Henrique Fernandes (contrabaixo), Luisa Brandão (voz) e Rui Leal (contrabaixo), ajudaram à construção de um disco diferente. Tocado e trabalhado, é um mistério que se adensa a cada faixa. Um mistério que vale a pena experimentar. Sim, é a veia experimental do multi-instrumentista Jonathan Uliel Saldanha que se ouve correr em “The Earth as A Floating Egg”.
Rui Dinis A Trompa
Rumor is listening
The Earth As A Floating Egg (SOOPA) is the metaphysical proposition of Jonathan Uliel Saldanha, who plays out his theoretical ideas in the shape of this astonishing ten-track release which began life as the soundtrack to a work by the choreographer Isabel Barros, and has now been reworked into the present suite of diablery. Saldanha plays a deal of the enigmatic music himself on percussion, keyboards, computer programming and processing, but is joined by numerous musicians who play more conventional chamber-jazz instruments. "Non-chronological narrative, elements of ancient Finnish and Babylonian mythologies, nymphs, ever-present ominous birds, alchemic methods in the tradition of King Tubby and Giacinto Scelsi," are just some of the objects packed into the mental shopping bag of this significant member of the Portuguese avant-garde, who sometimes records as HHY and is a multi-instrumentalist which a strong interest in dub music. The front cover looks like the frontispiece to a 16th-century treatise of Newe Scientiffic Discoveries and has been embossed with an ovular shape in blind, while the back cover of elaborate tune titles reads like the missing chapters to Gulliver's Travels. Potentially very exciting and tremendous work of spectral complexity here.
Ed Pinsent The Sound Projector
The Earth As A Floating Egg
A work composed and produced by Jonathan Uliel Saldanha, a young composer from Porto, Portugal who worked with musicians like Damo Suzuki (Can) and Mark Stewart (On-U). For many of the projects and groups he is involved in, he usually hides himself behind the name HHY. For this solo-album he is helped out by seven musicians, one of them being Filipe Silva with whom he runs the Soopa-label. What he is presenting is a kind of concept-album filled with wide orchestral and choral proportions. In line with alchemy and hermetic cosmologies that inspire Saldanha, he seems to like big gestures. After repeated listenings I still find myself not knowing what to think of this pompous musical work. It is pretentious electro-acoustical work that somehow connects to the world of Wakhevitch, Art Zoyd, etc. Some of the tracks evoke medieval and baroque times. Other pieces like 'Rumor is Listening' is a sort of intermezzo of sound poetry. 'The Fall of Lintukoto' opens with field recordings of birds. The opening track has dominant percussion with jungle sounds in the back, and associations with ethnic music come across. So many influences are integrated in this work. A bizarre work, and in that respect a welcome one. In one way Jonathan Uliel Saldanha spreads out many ideas and techniques. But the results are in my ears only partially satisfying. As a composition, it is not appealing to my standards. A bit too eclectic, and not convincingly incarnated from a consistent idea. The music is performed by eight musicians, including Saldanha himself who did a lot of processing of the material in order to reach its final form.
Dolf Mulder Vitalweekly
The Earth As A Floating Egg
‘Electrostatic soundscapes superimposed with the evocative qualities of operatic singing’ reads the release sheet, and it’s a fairly accurate assessment, but don’t let the fat lady reference scare you away. Vocals are used sparingly, and in a glitchy contemporary way, like the gasps and gurgles of AGF with more range and tonal accuracy. The soundscapes come from an ensemble of musicians assembled from Saldanha’s base in Porto, weaved into dizzying tapestries of frenzied blips and bursts.
Restraint is not Saldanha’s strong suit, nor clearly his agenda, his crazed outbursts spitting elements like discarded seed husks. Opener ‘Ornithos Haruspex’ finds him at his most extreme, waves of crashing cymbals, bass rumbles, prog synth stabs, train chuff, all buried amid reversed tape warbles and digital laptop jitter. The uncredited female vocals only show up on a few tracks, and lend a welcome human presence to the mechanised juxtaposition. On ‘Rumor is Listening (In Verto)’ whispered sprechstimme gasps echo and layer like musical phrases, while in ‘The Fall of Lintukoto (Autophagia)’ it’s stretched into drone, and laid over glassy chimes and birdsong. The sun-kissed Exotica closer, ‘The Concealer (Calypso)’, is utterly incongruous – steel pan rhythms, conch shells and reverbed tropical ambiance – but is so well done it deserves a place on John Zorn’s homage to Martin Denny The Gift. Worth checking for this tune alone.
Joshua Meggitt Cyclic Defrost
The Earth As A Floating Egg
The Portuguese label Soopa was born ten years to monitor the musical activities of Jonathan Saldanha Uliel (HHY, Mecanosphere, Besta Bode, but also collaborations with Badawi, Mark Stewart, Steve Makay, etc) and Filipe Silva (The Banshee). Saldanha shows in "The Earth As A Floating Egg" the more scholarly and experimental side of his music: songs born using portions of lyrical singing and orchestral sounds which are then assembled into something resembling small cathedrals in the desert that seem small elephants. Ten songs for just over fifty minutes of music alternating steps more cacophonous and noisy ("Ereshkigal") to more elegant and lyrical ("Ilmatar).
Roberto Mandolini Rockerilla