The longer a track, the more likely it is to collapse under its own weight. This makes the success of the 47-minute Lastro all the more remarkable. Gustavo Costa‘s single-track album is the soundtrack to a work by dancer and choreographer Né Barros. We imagine the dancers being extremely pleased by the variety and development of this dynamic material. Although electronic in nature, the piece also incorporates harp and percussion, widening its tonal range.
Lastro begins with deep sonorities, a slow tolling offset by high-pitched twinklings of metal and glass, like the intertwined notes of a church bell and a cash register. The stereo effects in this opening segment are sublime. This is followed by a tempo-free, sci-fi segment of drones and high pitches, during which (we’re guessing) the dancers are free to move in particularly expressive ways.
Just before the thirteenth minute, a looped beat gallops in, not quite steady, doubling back on itself as it introduces the next movement. The excitement level rises as the percussion and harp wrestle control. Then it all descends to breath and vinyl crackle, only to rise again. At 25:28, IDM enters. Once again, the stereo is used to crackling effect. Shifting between steady and unsteady beats, the percussion injects a manic tone, settled by a temporary excision. At 31:44, the timbre flirts with industrial. Some of the beats sound like gunshots. In this segment, the dancers face their biggest challenge, along with perhaps their greatest joy. But even this doesn’t last long ~ a wise choice to spare the calves. Once more into the breach is all they will be able to take, and off they go again. Eventually the pulse slows as the percussion falls first into a drone and finally into silence. The dancers collapse. The sextons sweep up the pieces.
Hearing a composition this elaborate makes one miss the live performances even more. We send our love to every dancer and choreographer, working out in private while yearning to share the joy of movement with others. Your time will come again. (Richard Allen)