In a world where there is an abnormal amount of information, people tend to seek new ways of relating to artistic expressions, shedding new light on traditional perspectives and pushing creative boundaries. Across the different creative industries, from art to architecture and from music to advertising, predictable schemas are torn down with elements that push not only the creative but the audience. Music genres no longer exist, fashion trends evolve on a daily basis, and so on. Artistic exploration is a continual process of self-awareness blended with a profound look at what exists out there, how will it be perceived, and who will perceive it.

The recent work by Lautaro Mantilla and Daniel Pencer, titled Bricks, inevitably pushes creative and improvisational boundaries, but more importantly, it empowers audiences to activate a part of the brain that is often dormant. The part that is on sleep mode, simply telling us to push the play button in the sea of algorithmically created playlists, leaving our analytical skills in a state of binary decision-making: ‘I like it’ or ‘I don’t like it’. Artistic experimentation is hardly created to force binary conclusions. In fact, it is meant to do the opposite: to identify the myriad of options every human being can have when listening to something like Bricks, as Mantilla and Pencer refer to it, pushing the ‘perpetual frontier’ of creative potential.

Creative Processes

Lautaro Mantilla is a guitarist, composer, and improviser from Bogota, Colombia. With a number of studies and experiences under his belt, including a Bachelor of Music in classical guitar from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (Colombia), a G.D and a M.M with Academic Honors in Guitar and Contemporary Improvisation, and a Doctorate in Composition, all from New England Conservatory (NEC), his work goes beyond that the average music academic. His collaborative spirit and natural interest in social issues has led him to work with Eliot Fisk, Joe Morris, Anthony Coleman, and John Mallia, among others.

Lautaro Mantilla

When listening to Bricks, one can start drawing a common thread among the album tracks, without the need of falling into the trap of trying to understand the sounds as songs or music, but the creative process. Each instrument is treated as its own gravitational force, to a degree where the listener can associate its protagonism to that of a dancer in a solo performance. Jolts of expression are seen throughout the album creating a counterpoint between the instruments at some times, both in tempo, velocity and dynamic. “I believe that all the musicians have the potential to be improvisers, but the practice of improvisation is an art form that requires as much preparation, dedication, seriousness, and development of skills and techniques than any other art form and I don’t think all the musicians understand that.” Lautaro Mantilla.

The unique synergy created by these two artists lead to an aggressive, non-linear narrative based on time, pulse and silence. In listening to the entire track, we would also add elements including physical space, surprise and touch. Several fragments of the album are intentionally construed as a blend between melodies and physical interaction with the instruments like tapping or mute-picking, adding another layer of space to an even visual representation of the sound. As they both share in their statement:

New ways of thinking about relations between composition and improvisation can trigger new possibilities of experimentation that constantly reinvent the musical parameters as a “perpetual frontier” and can strike a balance between rigor and freedom, which is needed to keep this material in a constant flux.

Pencer and Mantilla, Bricks
Lautaro Mantilla
Lautaro Mantilla performing

From meditation to pure and simple enjoyment, Bricks is full of anecdotes that push these boundaries, taking us in a multi-sensorial journey of self-awareness and left-brain activity.

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