Review: Cecilia Quinteros + Wenchi Lazo – YAS

a3146257158_16Two instruments, two very different improvisatory circumstances. I hear Cecilia Quinteros’ cello through a very organic lens: the fierce strike of the bow, the fingers skipping up and down the neck, the sound rushing into the resonant wooden body of the instrument. Changes in timbre are conducted through changes in physical pressure, bow angle and bowing speed, from squeals of high harmonics to splutters of choked pizzicato. In contrast, Wenchi Lazo uses electronic FX to crush the signal of his guitar, often shedding all resemblance to the source signal as it crumples into distorted burps or liquefies to form beautiful, high-frequency droplets. On my left, I hear the expressive potential of physical movement and muscle. On my right, I hear the pliability afforded by communicating via immaterial electronic signal. The gymnast and the scientist. Both players try to fathom the sudden and unannounced transformation of the other (the gymnast blinded by feats of sonic construction, the scientist taken aback by yoga-like contortions in physical posture), responding to each shift in emotional state with instinctual bleats of anger or confusion or shock. Whichever arrives first.

For much of its playing time, YAS resembles the babble that emerges when the body reacts before the mind can render the response coherent: Lazo produces spurts of distortion that sound like someone forcing air out of tight lips, while Quinteros hacks at her strings as if trying to saw the cello in two, panting in frantic harmonics and frictional scrapes. Both send their hands scrambling up and down the instrument neck, producing mad dialogues of flurried pitches and botched notes, not so much communicating with eachother as barking in primal exclamation. It’s beautiful to observe, and regardless whether I’m hearing Quinteros’ palms smacking the cello body or Lazo’s estranged slugs of electronic noise, the sincerity of each emission never feels in any doubt.