Farewell and New Beginning
Essay on Angélica Castelló 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 Angélica 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, Castelló, who was born in Mexico City and studied classical recorder in her hometown as well as in Montréal 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, Angélica Castelló 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 Angélica Castelló’s mind, waiting to be caught and tamed. “My music is abstract, but I am inspired by very concrete people and stories,” Castelló 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 Angélica 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 Angélica Castelló 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 Angélica Castelló wants to do too. For “Louise” she imagined one of Bourgeois’ giant spider sculptures inside a church and used sounds from the Mérida 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 Castelló 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 trouvés, 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‘ beschäftigt.“ Das gestand, damals noch etwas kryptisch, Angélica Castelló im Zuge des freiStil-Gesprächs über die „Mole“-Platte des Low Frequency Orchestra mit Wolfgang Mitterer. Verglichen mit so manchem Früh(reif)werk anderer, hat sich Castelló für ihr Solo-Debüt 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 Castelló ihre Stücke. Immer heftiger wuchernd, gestaltet sich  etwa „La Fontaine 1“, eine achteinhalb Minuten lange, vorwiegend düstere 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 Castelló gern etwas bedeckt hält, einer dieser zauberhaften, anrührenden russischen Frauenchöre auf. ‚Ksenia‘ heißt das gute Stück, und es schmückte 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 für meine abstrakte Musik immer konkrete Anlässe“, erklärt Castelló. Häufig 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 drängendes, 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 considérer comme une relique clôturant officiellement une étape sonore. Il faut se lancer dans le second, solide
improvisation électroacoustique avant de laisser s’envoler les arcs électriques résonnant dans les drones du troisième. Angélica Castelló, mexicaine de souche,
habite à Vienne depuis 1à ans, ville de Radian et donc de leur label Mosz. Crissements, envolées improbables, textures tour à tour râpeuses et sensuelles,
édifices instables et sonorités du bois et du vent, elle disséque et reconstruit une nappe sonique jouissant sous les logiciels patraques et les instruments de
fortune. Mélange de crépitements désordonnés et d’ondulations aquatiques, on pense à la fois à G. Lelasi et G. Ligeti. Une confrontation de styles et d’époques
qui nous laisse en apesanteur, présageant l’orage (« Ksenia »), la virée nocturne d’un cerf (« Louise ») ou l’apnée dans un ruche (« Tombeau »).



Fabrice Vanoverberg © Le son du grisli
Installée à Vienne depuis une dizaine d’années, la Mexicaine Angelicá Castelló s’est fait un nom comme citoyenne du monde (elle a vécu à Montréal et
Amsterdam), mais surtout en tant qu’organisatrice de la série de concertsNeue Musik in St. Ruprecht  – pour l’anecdote, la plus ancienne église romane de la
capitale autrichienne. Mettant à l’affiche Nono ou Scelsi aux côtés de membres vénérés de la scène locale (Kai Fagaschinski ou Billy Roisz), la musicienne de
Mexico City a multiplié les points de chute, entre multiples collaborations et œuvres solo – dont le présent Bestario, d’un intérêt saisissant au-delà de la
réserve d’introduction.
Il est en effet bon de ne pas arrêter son chemin aux trompeuses apparences des premiers instants. Ces temps initiaux, des pizzicati pêchés parmi les moins
intéressants (euphémisme) ducôté de chez Dimitri Chostakovitch embaumés dans une brume fenneszienne laissent heureusement rapidement place au
meilleur – de tout haut niveau. Tirant ses envies tant du côté du très remarquable Giuseppe Ielasi que de l’ivresse bricolée des comparses de label Rdeča
Raketa, le bestiaire de l’artiste mexicaine engrange les troubles auditifs – émiettés pour mieux renaître de leur apparente désorganisation.
N’hésitant jamais, ou si peu, à déconstruire un argot du bruit nettement plus viennois (au sens Editions Mego du terme) que catalan – encore que le troisième
morceau Lima emprunte un sample d’une radio francophone (France Culture ?), Castelló appuie sur les envies bruitistes, noyées dans un magma sonore où
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 électroniques abstraites (à l’instar de son activité de programmatrice déjà citée), Angelicá Castelló termine son œuvre sur un formidable