Rafael Toral ‘Spectral Evolution’

— ZDB at Teatro Ibérico

©Vera Marmelo

After almost four decades of continuous work, Rafael Toral continues to operate with patient daring in uncharted territories, in a process of meticulous and shrewd exploration, whose body of work has always proved invaluable. We’ve already given him the highest praise on several occasions, without ever incurring hyperbole, but it can never be too much when we come across a work like ‘Spectral Evolution’. A record woven over four years of study, research and experimentation, it marks Toral’s return to the guitar – work postulated in the essential ‘Wave Field’ and ‘The Violence of Discovery and Calm of Acceptance’ – reconciling this mode of action around droney environmentalism with the post-free jazz demand for electronic instruments of his Space Programme, which has since been completed. In this seemingly incompatible communion, a new phase is discovered, recognising this past and projecting a new future.

‘Spectral Evolution’ also marks the return of Jim O’Rourke’s Moikai, dormant since 2002, which reappears here under the umbrella of the huge Drag City, in a symbiosis full of meaning. A 47-minute long piece, divided into 12 “movements”, ‘Spectral Evolution’ does full justice to its name in a movement that, from the first languid guitar chords, evocative of the romanticism of the jazz ballad, gradually thickens and undresses in a way that is as organic as it is meticulous, like a fractal between drones, pieces of conscious electronic soloism, contemplative landscapes of clean guitar, space and an almost orchestral management of time and dynamics, but never faux pas, full of lyricism and emotion. It’s no surprise that, on its arrival at ZDB, ‘Spectral Evolution’ has already garnered the most varied praise, from Pitchfork to Boomkat, in a clear demonstration of the transversal and, why not, human power of this music. During Toral’s previous visit to the Aquarium, we wrote that ‘Moon Field’ was “a portal disc to another universe, always expanding”, and Drag City’s press release for ‘Spectral Evolution’ talks about a “new expanding universe”. There you go. BS

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