Farewell and New Beginning
Essay on AngĂ©lica CastellĂł and “Bestiario”

Andreas Felber

They say there is a farewell in every beginning. Or was it the other way around? In any case, “Bestiario” is about farewells. And it represents a new beginning, a clear initial marker in a vast field, a launching pad. First, quite simply because “Bestiario” is AngĂ©lica Castelló’s debut album. A debut long overdue if we consider the manifold ways the 38-year-old has been contributing to the Vienna music scene since 1999: as a flutist (which seems something of a euphemism in reference to the monster instrument she plays, a Paetzold subgreatbass recorder), electronic sound designer, and composer hovering between the poles of contemporary improvisation, electronic music, electroacoustics, field recording, and advanced structural thinking – which places her firmly among the open-minded spirits of the 1990s who have since established themselves as a free-thinking segment of the Vienna music scene. In addition to all that she is also part of numerous band projects including the “Low Frequency Orchestra”, an unconventional mix of instruments, the four-woman group “Subshrubs”, and the duos “frufru” with Maja Osojnik and “Chesterfield” with Burkhard Stangl – to name just a few. Last but not least, CastellĂł, who was born in Mexico City and studied classical recorder in her hometown as well as in MontrĂ©al and Amsterdam, is also an event organizer who has for several years now been managing and curating the contemporary music concert series “Neue Musik in St. Ruprecht” that takes place in the 12th-century Ruprechtskirche, Vienna’s oldest church. As we see, AngĂ©lica CastellĂł has already made a range of contributions, left traces, footsteps, set new courses. Now she is presenting her first work under her own name. A very personal solo album. An artistic calling card: “Bestiario”.

The CD is also a new beginning in the sense of taking a step back from one’s past, of working through personal experiences and biographical turning points, a bestiary, as the title implies, of private memories lurking in AngĂ©lica Castelló’s mind, waiting to be caught and tamed. “My music is abstract, but I am inspired by very concrete people and stories,” CastellĂł says. She isn’t the kind of musician who meticulously pores over elaborate structures and concepts and then tries to express them. Rather, she draws from deep within herself, from encounters, breakups, experiences, thoughts. Not from musical programs that the listener should have prior knowledge of, but from sparks that give rise to pieces that develop and take form in the process, ending up more or less linked to whatever triggered them. For this reason I will make only a few references to the personal initiating forces behind the music on “Bestiario.”

“Tombeau”, “Krikaya”, and “Lima” were inspired by people who once played an important role in AngĂ©lica Castelló’s life, until – for various reasons – they disappeared, at least physically. In “Krikaya” one can hear the echo of icebergs along with fragments from Dmitri Shostakovich’s Sonata for Viola and Piano, his last work, composed in the face of death. “Lima” has to do – among other things – with the memory of a shared experience of observing slugs (“limace”) and “Air” from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Orchestral Suite #3 as part of a funeral service, whereas “La Fontaine” is based on Jean de la Fontaine’s well-known fable about the industrious ant and the grasshopper whose love for music and Bohemian lifestyle leaves him begging for food in the wintertime. “Ksenia” and “Louise” were inspired by two women whom AngĂ©lica CastellĂł never met personally. The first title refers to her Russian grandmother whose family fled to Mexico via Finland after the October Revolution. The second is dedicated to Louise Bourgeois, the French-American artist who died in 2010 and who was the most important influence in Castelló’s life – because she knew how to work through traumatic personal experiences creatively, knew how to translate life’s inspirations directly and without compromising her own integrity into works that transcend the self and can be freely interpreted, works that move many people. That’s what AngĂ©lica CastellĂł wants to do too. For “Louise” she imagined one of Bourgeois’ giant spider sculptures inside a church and used sounds from the MĂ©rida Cathedral in Yucatan as an acoustic layer for this ambivalent “Maman” image that shifts back and forth between threatening and protective. But her music should awaken the listener’s own images, thoughts, emotions, memories.

Today when CastellĂł listens to her music, she especially remembers the pleasure of working on the sounds: she compares the process with that of painting a picture in which color is applied layer by layer and later parts are scratched away, allowing a complex structure of fragmentary and intact superimposed layers to emerge. In her case the first phase of collecting sounds ¬– whether they arise from the flute, computer, or radio, are acoustic objets trouvĂ©s, or come from circuit bending, in other words from creative unconventional uses of everyday electronic devices – is followed by the layering phase in which up to 50 voices or structures are superimposed over each other, and this in turn is followed by the compressing and thinning-out phase. Here the sounds themselves take control and develop their own dynamics. And in the end they result in the collage-like sound structures we are confronted with on “Bestiario”. Music that is both visual and abstract, that calls forth memories and chases them away, that often seems to drift over from a different age, a different world, and yet is still grounded in the here and now. Complex, many-layered sound paintings, rough surfaces beneath which very often something concrete lurks: sounds full of warmth, poetic tenderness, moving fragility. “Bestiario” tells stories about yearning, loneliness, death, but also about a sense of security, about moments of happiness, about things one leaves behind. Stories about farewells and new beginnings. Stories about life.

(translated by Kimi Lum)


Frans de Waard about „bestiario“ Vital Weekly 773
Originally Angelica Castello is from Mexico, but via Montreal
and Amsterdam she landed in Vienna in 1999, where she still
lives and teaches. Her main instrument is the recorder, which
she plays with or without electronics. She plays this solo as
well as with various groups, such as the Low Frequency
Orchestra, Los Autodisparadores, Frufru, Cilantro, Subshrubs
and Chesterfield. On her solo CD she uses Paetzold contrabass
and subgreatbass recorders, piano, ukulele, toys, field
recordings and voice. Perhaps due to her study of electroacoustic
and computer music, this release turns out to be a
great one, I think. Where I perhaps expected some improvised
music, this is actually thoroughly composed music. The flute
is perhaps indeed the main instrument, but its very unclear
what she does with it. Are these recordings fed through some
kind of analogue or digital processing device, heavily layered
or as dry as possible? Its hard to say and probably its
useless to think about this, since what counts is the outcome,
and that is great, I think. Seven pieces of musique concrete,
electro-acoustic and an excellent montage of sounds, with the
necessary field recordings to go along, sizzling electronics.
Music that evokes images and could easily be used as a great
soundtrack. Evocative stuff that is just excellent. (FdW)
Address: http://www.mosz.org
Vital Weekly 773


Andreas Fellinger about bestiario in freistil
Angélica Castelló (voc, paetzold-fl, p, ukulele, toys, field-rec)
mosz / mosz.org / rec: 07-10
„Außerdem bin ich gerade mit Monstern wegen meiner neuen Solo-CD ‚Bestiario‘ beschĂ€ftigt.“ Das gestand, damals noch etwas kryptisch, AngĂ©lica CastellĂł im Zuge des freiStil-GesprĂ€chs ĂŒber die „Mole“-Platte des Low Frequency Orchestra mit Wolfgang Mitterer. Verglichen mit so manchem FrĂŒh(reif)werk anderer, hat sich CastellĂł fĂŒr ihr Solo-DebĂŒt lange Zeit gelassen. Jetzt, zum genau richtigen Zeitpunkt, wie im Nachhinein gesagt werden muss, kommt „Bestiario“ als vielköpfige Gestalt ans Tageslicht. Weder voreilig noch unmotiviert noch torschlusspanisch. Individuell krass unterschiedlich, aber ihren unterschiedlichen Individuen markant und perfekt angemessen strukturiert CastellĂł ihre StĂŒcke. Immer heftiger wuchernd, gestaltet sich  etwa „La Fontaine 1“, eine achteinhalb Minuten lange, vorwiegend dĂŒstere Musik. Dann hebt die Orgel an. Ist es Wolfgang Mitterer, ist es Johann Sebastian Bach? Eine Tragödie, eine Farce? Egal, wir befinden jedenfalls mitten in Peru, genauer gesagt in „Lima“. Mit einemmal taucht aus heiterem Himmel, der sich bei CastellĂł gern etwas bedeckt hĂ€lt, einer dieser zauberhaften, anrĂŒhrenden russischen Frauenchöre auf. ‚Ksenia‘ heißt das gute StĂŒck, und es schmĂŒckte schon die erste Damn!-freiStil-Samplerin. Und weiter geht’s in dieser aufregenden, brodelnden Tonart weit jenseits von l’art pour l‘art. „Ich verwende fĂŒr meine abstrakte Musik immer konkrete AnlĂ€sse“, erklĂ€rt CastellĂł. HĂ€ufig geht es darin um Abschiede, um Verluste und um den Neubeginn danach, wie Andreas Felber in den liner notes herausarbeitet. So gesehen, ist ‚Bestiario‘ auch ein trauriges, vor allen Dingen aber ein drĂ€ngendes, mitunter gewaltiges, vor Spannung brutzelndes Album. Eine Platte wie ein Thriller. Und eine mit vielen kleinen Monstern drin. (felix)

Publié par essmaa le avril 2, 2011
‹ANGÉLICA CASTELLÓ « Bestiario » (Mosz)
Il faut passer le premier morceau, ou le considĂ©rer comme une relique clĂŽturant officiellement une Ă©tape sonore. Il faut se lancer dans le second, solide‹improvisation Ă©lectroacoustique avant de laisser s’envoler les arcs Ă©lectriques rĂ©sonnant dans les drones du troisiĂšme. AngĂ©lica CastellĂł, mexicaine de souche,‹habite Ă  Vienne depuis 1Ă  ans, ville de Radian et donc de leur label Mosz. Crissements, envolĂ©es improbables, textures tour Ă  tour rĂąpeuses et sensuelles,‚édifices instables et sonoritĂ©s du bois et du vent, elle dissĂ©que et reconstruit une nappe sonique jouissant sous les logiciels patraques et les instruments de‹fortune. MĂ©lange de crĂ©pitements dĂ©sordonnĂ©s et d’ondulations aquatiques, on pense Ă  la fois Ă  G. Lelasi et G. Ligeti. Une confrontation de styles et d’époques‹qui nous laisse en apesanteur, prĂ©sageant l’orage (« Ksenia »), la virĂ©e nocturne d’un cerf (« Louise ») ou l’apnĂ©e dans un ruche (« Tombeau »).



Fabrice Vanoverberg © Le son du grisli
InstallĂ©e Ă  Vienne depuis une dizaine d’annĂ©es, la Mexicaine AngelicĂĄ CastellĂł s’est fait un nom comme citoyenne du monde (elle a vĂ©cu Ă  MontrĂ©al et‹Amsterdam), mais surtout en tant qu’organisatrice de la sĂ©rie de concertsNeue Musik in St. Ruprecht  – pour l’anecdote, la plus ancienne Ă©glise romane de la‹capitale autrichienne. Mettant Ă  l’affiche Nono ou Scelsi aux cĂŽtĂ©s de membres vĂ©nĂ©rĂ©s de la scĂšne locale (Kai Fagaschinski ou Billy Roisz), la musicienne de‹Mexico City a multipliĂ© les points de chute, entre multiples collaborations et Ɠuvres solo – dont le prĂ©sent Bestario, d’un intĂ©rĂȘt saisissant au-delĂ  de la‹rĂ©serve d’introduction.‹Il est en effet bon de ne pas arrĂȘter son chemin aux trompeuses apparences des premiers instants. Ces temps initiaux, des pizzicati pĂȘchĂ©s parmi les moins‹intĂ©ressants (euphĂ©misme) ducĂŽtĂ© de chez Dimitri Chostakovitch embaumĂ©s dans une brume fenneszienne laissent heureusement rapidement place au‹meilleur – de tout haut niveau. Tirant ses envies tant du cĂŽtĂ© du trĂšs remarquable Giuseppe Ielasi que de l’ivresse bricolĂ©e des comparses de label Rdeča‹Raketa, le bestiaire de l’artiste mexicaine engrange les troubles auditifs – Ă©miettĂ©s pour mieux renaĂźtre de leur apparente dĂ©sorganisation.‹N’hĂ©sitant jamais, ou si peu, Ă  dĂ©construire un argot du bruit nettement plus viennois (au sens Editions Mego du terme) que catalan – encore que le troisiĂšme‹morceau Lima emprunte un sample d’une radio francophone (France Culture ?), CastellĂł appuie sur les envies bruitistes, noyĂ©es dans un magma sonore oĂč‹s’affrontent Jefre Cantu-Ledesma et l’ensemble Zeitkratzer rejoint par Keiji Haino (l’admirable Ksenia). Rapprochant l’univers du classique contemporain à‹celui des musiques Ă©lectroniques abstraites (Ă  l’instar de son activitĂ© de programmatrice dĂ©jĂ  citĂ©e), AngelicĂĄ CastellĂł termine son Ɠuvre sur un formidable