[UiM 006] Agustí Fernández – Suite Nofres / Interseccions. Música i arts escèniques (1985-1990)

  • Pre-order date: 2 September 2022
  • Release date: 14 October 2022
  • Double disc (Bandcamp download code included)
  • First edition of 700 double albums
  • Analogue to digital conversion: Enric Giné, Tasso Laboratori
  • Mastering and lacquer: Ruy Mariné, Dubplates & Mastering
  • Original Artwork: Miquel Barceló
  • Design: Studiopol
  • Texts: Lulu Martorell, Carlos Pérez Cruz, Martí Sales and Andrés Corchero
  • Record pressing: Record Industry
  • Printing: Agpograf Impressors

Urpa i musell is pleased to present our sixth record. We have joined paths with pianist Agustí Fernández on a double disc that includes both the reissue of the LP Suite Nofres (originally released in 1987) and Interseccions. Música i arts escèniques (1985-1990) [Intersections. Music and performing arts (1985-1990)], a set of previously unreleased works that Agustí recorded during this period at various performances.

Agustí Fernández (Palma, 1954) is a seminal figure in the improvised music scene. Few musicians in Spain enjoy such international fame and respect. Peter Kowald, Derek Bailey, Lawrence D. “Butch” Morris, Evan Parker, Barry Guy, Mats Gustafsson, Joel Ryan, Joe Morris, Nate Wooley and Peter Evans are some of the musicians Fernández has been able to converse with artistically. He has shaped his creativity by leading free music formations, composing for the world of cinema, television, theatre and dance, directing musical events in our country and abroad in addition to his work in the field of teaching (until very recently he was professor of improvisation at the Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya). We could define his musical identity as the result of the interaction between the tradition of classical piano and the improvisation of jazz roots, which has led to new sonic places, the sum of language and intuition.

Fernández settled in Barcelona at a very young age. From the very beginning he received very diverse commissions and one of them was to play in the dance classes of the Institut del Teatre. There he met many young dancers. In 1986 he debuted in the recording world with Ardent, a set of piano pieces that includes a piece composed for the dancer Margarita Guergué. Shortly after, he took charge of the music for a contemporary ballet by Ramon Oller, another of the dance students he had met at the Institut del Teatre. Suite Nofres, released in 1987, is the recording of the music that Agustí played live in the show.

Three years later, “El mar” was recorded, a videodance piece that he and the dancer Àngels Margarit produced for Glasnost, the fringe TVE2 program directed by Lulu Martorell. This short piece was reinterpreted as Les nenes no en tenen mai prou, a theatrical show for piano and five voices, one of them Lulu herself. The second album of this release, Interseccions. Música i arts escèniques (1985-1990), includes these pieces, as well as unpublished extra material from Suite Nofres.

Agustí then combined work with training. In those years, he immersed himself fully in the musical avant-garde of the moment: he discovered the music of Cecil Taylor and took courses with Xenakis and Stockhausen. He also encountered some artists returning to Catalonia from the United States, such as the dancers Lydia Azzopardi and Cesc Gelabert and the musician Carles Santos, all of them influenced by the American minimalism of Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Agustí Fernández collaborated with Carles Santos closely for many years after 1982.

Santos’ approach to minimalism was particular, passionate (as Tom Johnson explains in “Passionate minimalism”) and heterodox. The limitations of minimalistic explorations —repetition of short musical patterns and phrases, persistent drones and harmony tending to be static— were understood above all as a starting point from which to express himself with complete freedom. Fernández received this influence and adopted Santos’ attitude both in Suite Nofres and in the works included in Interseccions. Minimalism here acts as a structural support. It serves as a framework from which to explore a variety of interesting topics, including research on the piano and brief bursts of free improvisation, meticulous work with timbre, phrasing, and form, where we discover, among other things, structures used in various locations and instrumentations, and interaction with the environment, including other musicians, singers, dancers and audiences.

The sonority of these pieces is rich and mature. Agustí, in fact, recorded Ardent with twenty years of musical experience already behind him, but at the same time it is also a learning record. As he explained in an interview with José Francisco Tapiz: “From ‘85 to ‘95 I was working on my own, trying to develop a language and have the tools to improvise. Privately, above all.” If we look at his discography, Suite Nofres marks a point in time, after which he released very sparsely until 1996. After using the minimalist approach, he had to abandon it. The yearning for completely free music meant intense personal work without too many sound testimonies (Interseccions is one of them). The result of this intense search is the sensational Tempranillo (1996), an album by duet with Evan Parker and which constitutes a declaration of intentions. Here we could say that the mature and most intense stage of Agustí begins —an essential part, but not one that we will relate here.

The two albums that make up the sixth release from Urpa i musell bear witness to the decisive period of impasse in the artistic growth of one of the most stimulating musicians that has emerged from our country. At the same time, it perfectly captures where experimental music was then. It is lovely to be able to hear the wonderful ideas that came from the head and hands of Agustí Fernández that represented the first flowering of his unmistakable character.

Manel Peña & Urpa i musell

Translation: Mark Dix