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"She knows": Live at Chiapas

Composer Susan Campos-Fonseca releases her new single: She knows (Live recording). The work, recorded in Chiapas, Mexico, with the band ChaTo, is now available on iTunes, and is part of the EP Zona de Silencio available also on the IGM's Soundcloud LAB Channel.


I assume minimalism as an asceticism. The Mexican duo ChaTo (Julio Torres and Pablo Chavarría) is characterized by choosing not to seek an extratemporal transendence in their live performances. For them, the instant is the only thing that exists: like a mandala, it is built to later be erased. Between the three of us, what we make is and is erased in improvisation; in its becoming, it is resonance and its fragility.

As a trio, we base our work on this break. But, “what is it that is broken? What is that precious object that we want to preserve?” Torres asks. “The process of reaching the breaking point, an emptiness, like a cinematographic suicide in each work”, Chavarría responds. Everything we live in is a construction (boxes, living in boxes, in pre-decided choices), why not break them?! “Experimentation,” the “avant-garde” or “advanced music,” are terms that are worn, constructed according to canons. The individual states of those who create beneath these principles as a break are dissimilar: therein lies the play of improvisation and experimentation.

Composer Susan Campos-Fonseca | Photo by Efraín Ascencio.

We decide to accept this challenge, working from the principle of texture, and from a rhythmic flow that we understand as “shamanic,” in the sense of a decolonial performativity of silence. Like the shout of fear of the colonized, and in its turn, quoting Laura Romero, like: “The shamanic ability [that] exists in perceiving and seeing that which is absent and hearing what the silence reveals.” We choose to take the risk of a single concert that will be recorded live to submerge ourselves in time without measure, unspecialized, without a grid… Time without number, where every instant, as Henri Bergson suggests, is an aging abyss. This species of sonorous suicide is sought in a time open to flows and different gradations of intensity.

ChaTo works with sensorial camps found in rock and punk; from that sonority they are immersed in a sound body. Added to this is my performance, which joins minimalism and aleatory. Nobody establishes the tempo, various flows of time coexist. Nothing is foreseen, dispersion moves us, and in it, we touch.

Zone of Silence is something that is alive in the moment, in a corporeal knowing. The acoustic properties of the viceregal chapel of Na Bolom – habited by unsettling colonial religious images – is another body, multiple and contingent, that dialogues with us. The two composers, Julio Torres on electric guitar, and me, playing the strings of the piano using extended techniques, open the experience with an improvisation on the “Haiku VII” (2012) by the composer Marvin Camacho (Costa Rica, 1966). This work, inspired in a “sorbón” – a traditional dance of the Bribrí people, an indigenous community in Costa Rica – is an invitation to molecular fusion, through which the sonorities of the piano strings and the electric guitar are connected.

This chordal and percussive fusion, along with the roaring voice, will give body to the entire album. Added to this is the sonority of the violoncello, interpreted by María Lipkau on “Kaleidoscope No. 3” (the only prerecorded included in the album), a work that Julio Torres (Morelia, 1977) composed for Las Letras (2015), a film by Pablo Chavarría (Monterrey, 1986), cinematographic director and drummer for ChaTo.

This chordal density is maintained in “Kaleidoscope No. 4”, where the trio (Campos-Fonseca, Torres, Chavarría), improvises on the score of “Kaleidoscope No. 3”, creating a new work. After the opening of this abyss arises “She Knows” (2011) by Susan Campos-Fonseca (Costa Rica, 1975), which includes the soundscape of the nights of San Cristóbal de las Casas and the erotic fury of a poem by Elise Plain, which are fused in the noise of ChaTo.

Zone of Silence is an attempt to abandon certain conventions regarding listening, the performer, technique, and space. Doing it in the “chapel of the jaguar”, occupying the anthropological and ethnographic museum of Na Bolom as an exercise in search of a decolonial performativity of silence and what that could mean was definitive for the project. The error, uncertainty, and becoming, preserved in the recording as a single experience, are a mandala.

Composer Susan Campos-Fonseca & Julio Torres | Photo by Efraín Ascencio.

Listening She Knows, Live at Na Bolom, is a created zone, composed of an “us” by the public, the space, and the historical memory of the space. There is no emptiness, nor negation, nor absence; it is a silence as a possibility of opening yourself to something. The principle of the body, the silent shout – preserved on the cover of the album, a work by the Mexican photographer Efraín Ascencio Cedillo – refers to the visceral, the corporeal, to a furious music that is at the same time contemplative, possible in improvisation. Like an animal that is dying, that’s life is still there, that exhales in a manner unforeseeable.

© 2018  |  IGM  |  New York

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