Cristián Alvear
Seijiro Murayama

track listing
- À peine 1
- À peine 2
- À peine 3

Cristián Alvear: guitar
Seijiro Murayama: percussion

Recorded by Shinichi Watanabe in Mishima (Japan)
on 8th october 2016

Mastering: Alan Jones



Depuis quelques semaines, j'ai écouté de nombreux disques, plusieurs dizaines certainement, mais il n'y en a qu'un seul qui revient toujours. Je devrais dire deux peut-être avec les ChamberEvents de Burkhard Schlothauer, mais je reviens toujours aussi inlassablement vers Karoujite, la première publication d'une collaboration qui continuera de se produire j'espère : Cristian Alvear et Seijiro Murayama. Si le premier était encore inconnu il n'y a pas si longtemps, on n'arrête pas de découvrir de nouvelles compositions pour guitare, anciennes ou composées pour lui, écrites par des membres de Wandelweiser surtout (Pisaro, Frey, Beuger, Malfatti, Thut) mais aussi par de plus jeunes compositeurs inspirés par les musiques expérimentales et minimalistes (d'incise, Sarah Hennies, Taku Sugimoto, Ryoko Akama par exemple).
Pour ceux qui connaissent déja bien, ou même juste un peu, Cristian Alvear et Seijiro Murayama, cette rencontre enregistrée au Japon ne les étonnera pas plus ça que dans la forme. Car en gros, il s'agit de trois pièces répétitives, remplies par les frottements de cymbales de Seijiro Murayama, ou par les battements rapides de caisses claires, et ponctuées par la répétition lente mais pas trop d'une note de guitare, ou un accord léger. Voilà pour un descriptif grossier et sommaire, qui correspond d'une certaine manière à ce qu'on entend mais pas vraiment à ce qu'on ressent.
Car la musique de ce duo, malgré les répétitions, n'a rien de minimaliste, on pourrait même être tenter de la qualifier de maximaliste tant elle parvient à remplir l'espace, et ce de plus en plus au fur et à mesure qu'avance le disque. C'est une musique répétitive, oui aucun doute, mais loin des répétitions parfaites et monotones. Non, il s'agit de répétitions avec leurs faiblesses, leurs erreurs, leurs à peu près en somme. Et la musique évolue sur ce terrain glissant et indomptable de la faiblesse humaine, de la résonance du lieu, de la spontanéité d'une matière sonore qu'on peut créer, mais jamais totalement maitriser. C'est comme si le duo invoquait une matière sonore, et lui laissait champ libre pour ensuite créer l'espace sonore qu'elle souhaite. D'où la beauté et l'unicité de ces espaces sonores inouis.
Cristian Alvear et Seijiro Murayama jouent de la guitare et de la batterie, jusqu'ici pas de problème. Ils composent ensemble une musique répétitive et peut-être minimaliste. Mais l'écoute de ce disque nous plonge surtout dans la création d'espaces sonores riches, dans la création d'une écoute unique, dans la création d'un monde musical où les éléments primaires s'opposent (la pulsation de la guitare et le jeu lisse de la batterie) pour mieux se rejoindre et former un espace homogène et équilibré : un espace musical puissant, beau, envahissant, toujours plein, riche et fluctuant, incertain et fluide. On est loin des clichés du minimalisme et de la musique répétitive tout en étant dedans en somme. On n'est plus dans la composition stricte ni dans l'improvisation libre, mais dans une musique très cadrée, propre, qui sait rester ouverte à tous les possibles, et qui joue de tous ces possibles incertains et beaux.
Julien Héraud l Improv Sphere l Juillet 2017



Despite some loud and even quite aggressive moments, Karoujite is bereft of grand virtuoso gestures. Instead, it demonstrates a steadiness and persistence that is quite hypnotic, in the way that people often find the almost-regular clatter of old film projectors hypnotic. Recorded in Mishima in the autumn of 2016, the album features three tracks from acoustic guitarist Cristián Alvear and percussionist Seijiro Murayama, both well-known figures in experimental music circles but collaborating here for (as far as I know) the first time.
The structure of each piece is simple: guitar notes or chords repeated at regular intervals, with continuous brushed, rubbed, or rolling sounds from the percussion. Sometimes the chords and timbres change within the piece, sometimes not. The guitar ranges from sharp, high-pitched pings to low rapid drive, making use of bright harmonics and palm-muted plucking. Meanwhile, the percussion creates all kinds of shuffling, swishing, shimmering, rumbling, and clattering, giving rise to resonances that are sometimes gentle and sometimes screeching. While playing a given combination of sounds, the two musicians keep the dynamics and tempo pretty much rigid, underscoring an impression of droning repetition.
The combination of plucked guitar harmonics and resonant percussion leads to some really nice sounds, and the flat, repetitive form of the music allows you to really revel in them, to become absorbed by these ringing and rattling tones. I particularly liked the intensity and sharpness of the more uptempo sections — perfect for snapping me back to attention when my mind wanders in a post-work daze. Maybe there’s not much to make Karoujite stand out amid a slew of similar approaches, but it’s a very enjoyable listen nonetheless.
Nathan Thomas l Fluid Radio l August 2017


Pop the word Karoujite into Google Translate and it will tell you that the word is Japanese for barely. Translate “À Peine,” the title of each of this CD’s three tracks, and you will get the same result. Look at the album cover and you will see the same image of Chilean classical guitarist Cristián Alvear and Japanese percussionist Seijiro Murayama tiled 30 times. Taken together, you pretty much have the music’s score. The musicians do the same thing over and over, as nearly as they can — one stroke of the unamplified strings, one drag of stick over skin or strike of wood upon wood, repeating each shared gesture for several minutes before moving on to another one.
But the results are quite unlike the album cover. Without mechanization, the repetition isn’t identical, and this enables you to hear certain things. One is the tension that comes from concentrated effort, which charges the music’s apparent stasis with absorbing tension. The second, of course, is the repetition born of this effort, which is persistent but ultimately doomed to change. Overtones rise and subside, rhythms adjust ever so slightly, and as they do the music barely but inexorably changes.
The titles bring to mind a very different musical endeavor, Luc Ferrari’s Presque Rien (Almost Nothing). Ferrari gave that name to a series of pieces that used collected sounds to impart the composer’s impression of several locales. The meaning of the title was unfixed, and could at different times signify the imperceptibility of human presence, evidence of the composer’s hand, or the stony reactions of his colleagues when they heard the first iteration. But as Ferrari made successive editions of Presque Rien all of those things changed, and so it is with Karoujite; by the end of the album the players are doing quite different things than when they started out. Perhaps Alvear, Murayama, and Ferrari have all been pondering on something that farmers have known for millennia. No matter how much you strive or are compelled to do the same thing over and over, things change.
Bill Meyer l Dusted l July 2017  


Before coming together in this duo, the Chilean acoustic guitarist Cristián Alvear and the Japanese percussionist Seijiro Murayama were both well-established Potlatch artists. Alvear has built a reputation as a performer of compositions by Wandelweiser members such as Jürg Frey and Antoine Beuger, as exemplified by his fine album of Michael Pisaro pieces Melody, Silence (Potlatch, 2015). Seijiro is represented on the label by a pair of 2011 duo albums alongside French improvising saxophonists, Window Dressing withJean-Luc Guionnet and Axiom for the Duration with Stéphane Rives.
However, knowledge or experience of the pair's previous releases is unlikely to fully prepare anyone for what they will hear on Karoujite. The album title (which translates from Japanese as "scarcely") and its cover (which repeats one small photograph of the musicians again and again) may be intended to drop hints about the content. The album has three tracks, running for just over forty-one minutes. Recorded in Mishima, Japan, in October 2016. they are titled À Peine 1, 2 & 3, which indicates that they should be considered as parts of a greater whole. With reassuring consistency, "à peine" translates from French as "scarcely," which is fitting as the word applies to several aspects of the duo's music on the album.
So, for extended periods the playing features much repetition, meaning it scarcely develops or changes. The repetition does not resemble that produced by a tape loop or loop pedal, but sounds far more human and less metronomic or robotic. As Alvear plucks the same note over and over, there are slight differences in his timing and attack that are scarcely detectable. Behind him, Seijiro's subtle percussive scrapes on cymbals are just varied enough to prevent the music sounding static, but are totally in keeping with the guitar's repetitions. Neither guitar nor percussion would stand alone, but together they work well.
This is not music that can "just be on"; it needs to be given full attention to be properly appreciated. When time and attention is invested in it, the music handsomely repays the investment, giving a great deal back and revealing ever more subtle detail with each listen. The three tracks have elements in common but are distinctly different enough to be individually identifiable. Together they combine to create a listening environment that is by turns engaging and mesmerising.
John Eyles l All About Jazz l June 2017