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«still life #1 & 2»

Slight Deform is the Catalan, Barcelona-based experimental duo of guitarist-sound artist Ferran Fages and pianist Clara Lai. Still Life is a new series of digital EPs by the duo, following its debut, self-released album, Inside (2022), documenting the live performances of the duo and suggesting expressive and most intimate sonic doses in between studio albums.

still life #1 is a live performance of Inside, recorded two years later at the same place where the recording session was held, at the Rosazul Studio in Barcelona in November 2022. The performance was an exhibition of Slight Deform’s continuous and ever-expanding sonic research of timbral and discursive textures. Fages and Lai rarely play the electric guitar and the piano in conventional manners and employ inventive extended techniques, treatments and preparations on their instruments to create reverberating, resonating and percussive layers of minimalist and enigmatic tones and overtones, in different modes of intensity and tension and with great poetic sensibility. The music is informed by Morton Feldman’s school of minimalism but flirting with delicate and abstract noises.

still life #2 is a new step forward, with Lai playing the electric piano that offers a wider sonic palette that is built upon the timbric and tonal qualities of the electric piano and electric guitar, often their corresponding vibrations create one poetic sonic entity. The music of Slight Deform keeps its mysterious, minimalist spirit but now flows in an even more intimate and suggestive way as if it is meant to suggest an underwater, softer nature of sounds, again, with different modes of intensity and tension. Or as Lai and Fages describe still life #2: «an intimate border built between chromatic bells and smashed colorful flowers». This EP was recorded live at El Pumarejo Cultural Center in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, in November 2023.

Redox is the album of the Fages’ free improvising trio Phicus, recorded at La Casamurada in Banyeres del Penedès, Tarragona, in March 2021, but released after a tortuous production process. Phicus informs that there was a «certain tension floating in the studio during the recording, with disagreements regarding the material, mixing and mastering». But after further adjustments were made and more money spent, delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the convulsed personal situation of the members of the band during that time, it was finally released. Somehow this long and demanding process serves the doom and gloom spirit of Redox. It is dark and dirty, demented and noisy, and pushes Phicus into its most brutal power, but with surgical precision and timbric exuberance. Totally different from the the easy and relaxed mood that pervaded the genesis of previous Phicus albums.

Eyal Hareuveni

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