It’s been a while since hearing anything from the bale hands of Tim Olive so it’s good to report that his 2009 duo with the stalwart Alfredo Costa Monteiro is a solid, absorbing effort.
Both wielding electronics and metal of various sorts…they fashion a thick, rough, spiny set of two pieces, the music elbowing its way through, leaving shavings and unexpected bruises. The first track is quite packed but not overstuffed, several things usually in operation at a given moment–throbbing hums with erratic static and scoured metal here; when a couple of sources drop out, the remaining one or two acquire a ghostly effect, echoing, arguing. One of the impressive things is how varied the landscape is while feeling quite cohesive and of a piece. Not groundbreaking by any means and fans of the pair will find themselves in recognizable territory, but the decision toward fullness is one fraught with the “peril” of hyperactivity and these guys never get near that particular trap.
As with much good music of this character, it’s tough (for me) to offer much more than a sonic description and perhaps to give an idea of the shape or scale of the piece(s). That latter is a subtle thing, but here one does get a feeling of breadth, of compass. The sounds range widely, shrill to deep, high to low, though the volume level is fairly consistent, resting in the medium zone and, as said, active without being overly busy. But, for example, when early in the second track, when you hear what sounds like large, hollow metal bars tossed down an empty, linoleum-tiled hallway (which I’m sure is not the actual source), it connotes something more than just the aural sensation, summoning a vague story line, some plot that can’t quite be discerned. It’s magical moments like this (and there are several) that make recordings like “33 bays” so valuable.
Don’t let it slip by.
(Brian Olewnick, Just Outside)
33 Bays, Olive’s 2012 duo release with Alfredo Costa Monteiro, is stellar; the pair collaborated in Barcelona and Osaka five years ago, and happily have sustained their rattle and roil in occasional meetings like this one… So 33 Bays, whose duration does not overstay its ideas nor malinger past necessity, enjoins and rips apart two simpatico improvisers who often sound as if they’re making music from inside a Richard Serra sculpture. The occasional dynamic drops in density and volume are hypostatic, you’ll literally reel and wobble from their effect. This is music that is at once driven (I’ll skirt the meteorological here), and nuanced, and should be heard and huzzahed about alongside stuff like Drumm’s Humid Weather, or Daniel Menche’s Field of Skin.
(Jesse Goin, crow with no mouth)
The album begins with a static burst and deep rumbling bass as the two embark on a journey of dark, slow moving, and thoughtful improvisation. A rich and detailed soundscape emerges, at times like electronic snakes raking their way through a feedback forest, while other times the listener seems to be traveling through epic ductworks in a perplexing factory. The contrasts in textures and timbre carry the improvisations, bringing a diverse and dynamic journey to the attentive listener. Olive and Monteiro’s compatibility is found in a shared, unhurried approach to their work, allowing dramatic sounds and interventions to develop with dark tension, released into unexpected moments of peaceful beauty and clarity. This early example of their collaboration clarifies why the pair have continued their conversation live and on record.
(Phil Zampino, Squidco)
33 bays contains two long, involving improvisations… Both tracks are energetic and full of ideas, and while there’s not much in the way of novelty, it serves as a particularly good document of this particular brand of improvisation.
(William Hutson, The Wire)
Two untitled tracks, 44 minutes in all, and both tracks are powerful and intelligent, driven by instinct but displaying richly contrasted textures that must have been preplanned.
(Francois Couture, Monsieur Delire)
33 Bays is one of those delightfully erudite electro-acoustic experiences that has the listener nodding their head in approval as the sounds make their way from 00.00 to end. It’s a collaboration that works perfectly; Tim Olive making good use of a one stringed guitar whilst Monteiro plays ‘electro-acoustic devices’, results being plenty of those ear tickling moments where you’re not sure if a wire brush has been gently plucked whilst an amplified cat purrs close up to your ear drums or the backs come off the telly and the dust is burning or there’s an army of a thousand Airfix soldiers making their way across the Axminster or someone’s trying to eat tinfoil. Press release mentions ‘sharp transitions and gradual transformations’ which is fair enough but I prefer scrape and buzz, small silences, jack socket static, steel bars rolling across an empty foundry floor at midnight. The depth and quality of sounds on offer here is quite exceptional and after numerous plays I’m still being rewarded.
(Mark Wharton, Idwal Fisher)