Monte Espina, electroacoustic free improvisation duo, consists of Ernesto Montiel and Miguel Espinel, both Venezuelan-born and North Texas-based. The pair perform in tandem, exploring the possibilities of sinuous sonic environments amid amplified sounds and signal processing.
"Pa" is Monte Espina's second proper album, following 2019's outstanding "y culebra" (Marginal Frequency). In many respects, this is a seamless continuation of the timbres and atmospheres uncovered in that first effort, but "Pa" is an altogether more personal endeavor.
Recorded on March 21st, 2020, just one day before the pandemic quarantine took effect in their area, this was the last time Montiel and Espinel would be able to make music together for many months.
Adding greater weight to this date was the death of Ernesto Montiel Guillen, Montiel's father, in Venezuela just one day prior, on March 20th. That country's political climate, coupled with the developing global pandemic (not to mention economic considerations), meant that he was unable to be with his family during this abyssal moment of loss. Monte Espina's standing weekly rehearsal (or "training" as the duo refer to it) fell on the 21st, but rather than cancel it in mourning, they decided to go ahead and play (and record). It turned out to be a fruitful session. As Montiel states: "It was the first creative act I committed in a world where my father no longer was. And given the nature of our methodology of work, free improvisation, the performance was absolutely permeated by my feelings."
This piece is steeped in the stylistic flourishes of Monte Espina's previous work, but perhaps with a more vulnerable core than ever before. Though it was not explicitly performed in dedication to Montiel's father, this material's release intends to pay homage to his memory.
"Pa" then represents a delicate balancing act between introspection and fearless experimentation. Over the course of 63 minutes, Montiel and Espinel offer a series of ever-shifting textures and harmonics which give way to mysterious scrapings and rumblings only to then transform yet again into subtle, shimmering beauty: an ominous cloud, replete with resonant thunder and sparkling torrential rain.