At Café Metropol, November 3
Two dudes from Mexico. One skull-shaved, one shaggy. Sitting shoulder-to-shoulder behind electric keyboards. They start playing slow arpeggios together, then they go faster and faster, the counterpoints bouncing, the harmonies overlapping as they improvise within the structures mapped out on their sheet music. Soon they’re flying so fast that the music, while staying in some ways simple, pushes the edge of comprehension. “More than 25 sound events per second,” says their literature. Okay, stop — bang. Then they get up and do the same thing facing each other across an African marimba. Slow, faster, superfast, their mallets never colliding (how?). My foot taps up and down, my head shakes side to side.
Eduardo González and Ernesto Martínez, a.k.a. Micro-Ritmia, say they’re practicing something around 800 years old called hocketus, an instant interresponse system that can be found in Indonesia, in Africa and on the shores of Lake Titicaca. It comes off simultaneously old and new — tribal chant meets Philip Glass on meth, Scott Joplin goes robotic. They say they’re glad to be visiting the USA for the first time; they describe one composition as getting hyper with Erik Satie. “We’re trying to be relaxing,” says Martínez. “If you don’t like the music, you can buy the CD and burn it. With fire, not on computer.” A white modern ceiling fan turns slowly. My mind feels refreshed.