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The Catalan free improvising trio Phicus – guitarist Ferran Fages, double bass player Àlex Reviriego and drummer-percussionist Vasco Trilla – has developed its language and aesthetics as a live band, that employs the live setting to explore further and deeper its materials and vocabulary.

Ni, the eighth album of Phicus (and the second for the American, Maine-based Tripticks Tapes), reverses this logic. The COVID-19 pandemic forced Phicus to paralyze its activities, including the regular weekly rehearsal routine that the trio kept for years. But when Phicus almost lost much of its raison d’etre there came an offer to record a new, live album at one of the favorite spaces of the trio, Convent de Sant Agustí in Barcelona, with close friend and one of the trio’s favorite engineers, Pablo Miranda.

Phicus had little time to prepare for this recording so for the first time in the trio’s work, Reviriego wrote a composition attempting to recontextualize and develop further the vocabulary explored in the meditative-atmospheric spirit of Phicus’ studio album Liquid (Tripticks Tapes, 2021). The trio used the very limited time for rehearsal to fix all the little details and make it its own. Fages’ amp died during the soundcheck and Reviriego’s amp was damaged the day before unloading from another performance, but nothing could stop Phicus.

This 38-minute composition enjoys and adapts to the massive reverb of Convent de Sant Agustí. It offers a series of patient and gentle, hypnotic and highly resonant gestures and collisions, intensified by Trilla’s metallic bells and other percussive instruments and devices, that explore meditative and almost static territories. And like Liquid, the music flows naturally, in its accord and with its logic, and feels rich, ritualist and spiritual in its unique and inspired way.

Eyal Hareuveni

Ferran Fages (electric guitar), Àlex Reviriego (double bass), Vasco Trilla (drums, percussion)