|While the back cover of Open View says “Live at the CCB (Centro Cultural de Belem), Lisbon” and the liner has a picture of Carlos Bechegas and Peter Kowald on a stage, I heard no audience noise or applause on this recording. Perhaps they meant recorded live with no studio post-processing. In any case, the sheer range of sounds, with and without complementing electronics, is simply amazing. Yes, Kowald is playing a string instrument, but he makes it growl, moan, screech, dance, slide and slap, all sometimes at breakneck speeds and with total control. The record's first four tracks consist of two solos by Kowald and then two by Bechegas.
Kowald's bowing sound is extremely strong—he presses very hard—and he starts off with a low bowed note mixed with vocalism mixed in. He then is off with a stupendous display of bowing and fingering, drawing air raid sounds and what sounds like cow mooing, only to switch to slapped harmonics, changing to bowed harmonics that sound like a flute. There is much more in the rest of the first solo and the second. He is simply amazing, especially since it sounds as if there are no electronics to add to his blizzards of notes and effects.
Bechegas relies much more on the mix of flutes and electronics, and also with his voice mixing with his playing. How he is set up electronically and how he controls what happens, I have no idea. What is attractive is that, unlike Kowald, Bechegas is limited by his breath, and he manages to press so much into each phrase, sometimes totally distorting his flute, other times playing straight, while occasionally adding a second instrument by the electronics. The effect is fascinating, surprising, and intriguing.
The last three tracks have these two marvels playing together and, after exposure to the solos, the way they work together makes a lot of sense. I again cannot say anything about the notation (if any), the preparation (if any), or the cueing for changes in texture or styles. The music is extremely energetic, and, while the men are partners, I was continually drawn to the things that Kowald was doing, perhaps because I am more familiar with string instruments.
If this really was a live concert and the audience was cut out of the recording, they must have been blown away after the fifty minutes had passed—if they knew what they were getting into—or maybe even if they had no idea what hit them.