Art is slow attention

21 Tracks for the 21st Century

21 Tracks for the 21st Century: Tomás Cabado

Praktische info

Tomás Cabado will give a post-residency performance on Thursday, 24 September at 18h00 at Q-O2, Koolmijnenkaai 30-34, Brussels,
Free entry

HART magazine and Q-O2, a Brussels-based space for experimental music and sound art, join forces with 21 Tracks for the 21st Century, a series of playlists in which we ask our guests: what music does this century need? Each time, we invite one artist, thinker or musician to prepare a playlist of those sounds, songs and pieces of music that will best arm their listeners with the tools to approach what is left of this young century. For this month's edition, Buenos Aires-based composer Tomás Cabado compiled a playlist of local and international sounds, including American post-jazz, Argentinean microtonal experiments and traditional Andean music from Perú.

Tomás Cabado, foto Bruno Scarponi

Tomás Cabado is a composer of experimental music living in Buenos Aires. He makes a music designed for ambiguous deployment, stretching and tugging at musical considerations like duration, distribution and interpretation until they deform and take on new shapes. Tomás has produced text scores which leave large interpretive leaps to their performers, operating as distributed poems as much as instructions for music. Another set of works took the form of a box of chosen objects which could be inserted into instruments as preparations – a nomadic performance practice that could be carried around in a small wooden box. More recently, he has returned to a more personal performance practice, playing steel string guitar alongside archival recordings either found or made alone. Tomás is also a teacher and an active organiser of music in Buenos Aires and elsewhere. When we met him in Brussels, where he is now in residence at Q-O2, we asked him about how the experimental music scene operates within Buenos Aires and Latin America more broadly.

He sent us this message to accompany his playlist:

‘If I had to explain how this list relates to the present times, I'd say 'everything remains, everything insists'. I just think that we're not in a time of 'new music' anymore, in the sense of the music that is 'coming'. Some people agree that the future is not really thinkable anymore. Others would argue that it is radically discontinuous from the present and that we can (and must) only fictionalize it. The past is not a wonderful thing, either. We're kind of stuck in the present, right? In the sense of a time that is in between past and future but doesn't really advance or go backwards. So everything remains and insists in present music: connotations of past music, a sense of 'innovation' in the modern sense (broadening of possibilities, obtaining more technical possibilities, but also re-signifying previous ones), and the inclusion of 'archeological' strategies (sound archives, field recordings and what not).’

‘Anyway, I just listed music that I like and that I think and feel relates to all this (in some cases in a more intellectual sense, in others just on an emotional level, because, well, it's music isn't it?). As you asked, I put a special focus on music being produced in my region (Latin America) but in some cases I just went to other places. Most of these people are my friends. I refuse to separate affection from art.’

– Tomás Cabado

  1. Aylu – 'Miau'

A good friend from Buenos Aires, Aylu is a great composer (some would label her work as footwork, but she doesn't relate so much I think). Steady but complex rhythm layers and catchy samples. Para mover la patita.

  1. Diego Taranto – 'Fractura'

Diego, another composer from Buenos Aires, is a beloved teacher of mine and a great friend. I love this work because the materials are super raw. They have this calm connotation, but the attitude toward rhythm, form and compositional procedures is super strict and detailed. The inexorable coexistence of consonance and noise.

  1. Matías Coduri – Partitas

Okay so this is not exactly a link to a track but I think you should know Matías. He's a very unique person and artist, with a very thorough, conceptual approach to his procedures, but he's not really interested in visibility. So, much of his work you can only download from his website (which is kind of deceiving...). In this work, Partitas, he uses only the release sound of the harpsichord, at the very end of different baroque pieces for keyboard.

  1. Maks Bober – 'Balada'

Based in Warsaw, Maks is a composer from Patagonia. He has a simple approach to material and a great generosity in terms of his ideas, with which I relate greatly.

  1. Marcos Balter – 'Wicker Park'

I'll only say, this piece makes me want to gargle while a video of Bruce Lee playing ping pong with nunchucks is projected over me while I listen.

  1. Sergio Merce – 'En lugar de pensar'

Sergio is one of the best musicians that I know in the Buenos Aires scene (in fact he lives to the west of the city, in Merlo). One of the guys who remains in town from this awesome generation of Argentinian improvisers/experimental musicians (like Lucio Capece, Diego Chamy, Gabriel Paiuk, and other folks). Here, one of his beautiful, 'long breath' compositions, using his unique microtonal sax, among other materials.

  1. Rosa Nolly – Solo set for TVLRUIDO STREAMFEST, 26 September 2020

Another incredible sax player, from Neuquén and living in Buenos Aires. Rosa does this solo set with amplified baritone sax and lights inside the instrument, using only the feedback in the tube, rarely blowing the horn (actually I think she has only played one sound, once, doing this set).

  1. Caetano Veloso – 'Tudo Tudo Tudo'

With this one I want to go to another place. Caetano is of course a very well-known and much beloved bahiano musician. This song, from his album Jóia (which in itself is a masterclass in economy), is absolutely beautiful. I hear it as very related to the concrete poetry movement from Brazil (although there are more explicit examples of that) in Caetano's super minimalist but very expressive way of singing the lyrics:

Tudo comer / tudo dormir / tudo no fundo do mar
(Eat everything / sleep everything / everything under the sea)

  1. OCHO – 'Historia del Mompa'

OCHO is a band from my beloved friend Juan Belvis, one of my favourite songwriters ever. He's also an excellent producer and arranger, and his use of humour and different connotations in his music is quite notable. This song has some Uruguayan music vibes, but he claims it's more like cheesy conga or something.

  1. Juana Sallies – '4 veces el océano'

Juana, a close colleague and friend with whom I do more 'straightforward music' (I don't know how to call it), is in fact not straightforward at all. A very special artist who's just starting to unveil her way, her music has this deep chiaroscuro vibe worth listening to. Here is a song from an album including mostly piano and voice.

  1. Carmen Baliero – 'Un beso'

Carmen is notably known for her works for theatre. I recently shared a concert with her and her trio (including Wenchi Lazo, who's our own Bill Frisell + Fred Frith or whatever), and her songs got me very emotional. Here, a pretty convincing description of kissing.

  1. L. A. Spinetta – 'Tonta Luz'

Spinetta is a great reference for Argentinian music. When he died in 2012, there was a feeling of abandonment around everywhere. A very special combination of a super popular musician with complex, sometimes incomprehensible poetics and a very extravagant sound. Listen to this song until the end and you'll know what I mean.

  1. QUEMAR – 'En el medio del campo'

This responds to my interest in 'jazz' (or derived from that), which is a controversial form of music in some fields of musical practice. Obviously it's one of the few contemporary free musics with a 'tune tradition', that is I think one of the reasons for the resistance to it. But if you focus on writing a great tune, and you have an idea of what to do after you play it once and before playing it again, then you can do super fresh music. That's what bassist Nacho Martin does here, with a great instrumentation (Dani Bruno on trombone, Ale López on drums).

  1. Kieran Daly – 'Marionette'

Not Latin American. Mysterious Kieran Daly has this album playing standards and Lennie Tristano's gang tunes, with a computer-generated rhythm section and a guitar sound that seems like a MIDI bassoon. Post-jazz.

  1. Joseph Kudirka – '21st Century Music'

Back to 'composed' music, the next few tracks are by western musicians (well I don't really know if Latin America is part of the western world or not). This title is pretty self-explanatory.

  1. Antoine Beuger – '16 stanzas on stillness and music unheard'

Antoine was my mentor at a crucial point of my life. This is just an excerpt of an hour-long piece by him. Economy of openness, in every sense of both words.

  1. Reinier van Houdt – 'Drift nowhere past'

The piano as a romantic-modern archive. A sound archive as a tacit Affektenlehre.

  1. Laila Arafah – 'Sibelius studies'

I include this because it's exaggeratedly contemporary. And also very clever and very crafty in its own way.

  1. Conjunto Jatun Huaylas/Santos Jesus Berto – 'Huachhuita'

Last few tracks, as an epilogue. Traditional Andean music from Perú. This was presented to me by Clara de Asis a few days ago. It's interesting that we're hearing musicological field recordings from 40 to 60 years ago as label releases. With what ears do we hear this? It feels not a little problematic to be looking for sophisticated sounds (not to say 'exotic') in old, very local forms of music.

  1. V.A. – Liszt Bonk played by 46 pianists

Fading into non-music. Just a compendium of different recordings of one, very precise bar of Liszt's Sonata in B minor. Accidental Wandelweiser.

  1. lo wie

I wanted to end with just scores. lo wie is a Korean artist working mainly with literature and writing materials, but with a perspective of 'music' and the event very much related to George Brecht (Fluxus) and post-Cagean aesthetics (as in Manfred Werder, Mark So, etc.). Once, she sent me a score from Seoul to Buenos Aires, a very delicate piece of paper with just a fragment of a Clarice Lispector novel. Holding it felt like being part of a music happening elsewhere.

Tomás Cabado will give a post-residency performance on Thursday, 24 September at 18h00, at Q-O2, Koolmijnenkaai 30-34, Brussels, Free entry.