Carme López – Quintela (Warm Winters)


Sometimes music is for being present in the moment, hyper attuned to even the smallest gesture. At other times music can exist in the background, barely noticeable designed to enhance the space. The music of Spanish artist Carme López exists somewhere in between, in a strange surreal netherworld, between the conscious and the unconscious. It’s a place where strange leaps of logic exist, where despite her elongated and difficult to understand structures and some pretty experimental techniques including a few shrill tones, everything remains quite wondrous, imaginative and beautiful.

I’ve been falling asleep to this strange music now for the last month or so and it’s a remarkable experience. It’s so odd, it moves from subtle to almost raucous, but there’s something about the tones that López elicits from her ancient instrument, the Galician bagpipe, that is so warm and compelling. At times it feels like subtle electronic music, as she gives the music plenty of space to evolve, slowly over time. Structures feel positively tangential, as she fills the space with her remarkable modulations. ‘Quintela’ is structured in four movements, with the addition of a prologue and an epilogue.

López is a performer, teacher and researcher of traditional Galician oral music. This is her debut release, where she has decontextualised and deconstructed the Galician bagpipe in a really inviting, exploratory and open way. Incredibly subtle, her breath technique must be remarkable, as she’s equally able to elicit, gentle elongated drones and sparse mournful melodies that build over time. Possibly even more fascinating are the barely audible sounds of air passing through the hide bag and her rhythmical use of its reeds – exploring the physicality of her instrument.

Whilst it’s difficult not to be reminded of Kali Malone’s pipe organ work, López’s bagpipes are so distinctive, though if you weren’t informed as to her source you’d have no idea how she was creating these sounds. I think that’s what’s so fascinating about this music, the rich organic connection, the difficulty harnessing and reimagining such a wild instrument, to make it soft and subtle not only feels present in the playing, but feels like it enhances the playing. And its this wild confluence of factors that makes this music something really unique and special, music that bypasses rational thought and taps straight into the subconscious.


About Author

Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.