The music of Octavi Rumbau exploits the possibility of creating self-generating material from minimal premises. Organically regular patterns proliferate in the form of processes of increasing or decreasing complexity (following the lead of Phases by Steve Reich, or Poème Symphonique for 100 metronomes by György Ligeti) in which certain elements circulate freely within pre-programmed parameters. The perception of time is, indubitably, changed and transformed, released from ends-driven purposes, offering a glimpse of the possibility of a vertical, malleable time. We could say, in fact, that the passage of time and the alteration of perception are the two core elements in Octavi Rumbau’s conception of music.
In a certain way, his music is impregnated with a distilled, abstract idea of a figure’s doubleness: the manipulation of alterity and of the stability of signs and their semantic weight. A playing with otherness –in this case, embodied in kinetic figures– is always disturbing. Altering the loads of content and potentiality of musical signs in order to construct impossible universes –here, of sound– is, in sum, a game with spectra, mirrors and shadows that subvert the possibility of assumptions of knowledge. The composer, like a puppeteer, has at his or her disposal the ability to play with the centre of gravity, whether of matter or sound. And it is the manipulation and fitting into place of this centre from a distance that provides charm, disaffection and, in sum, organicity to the enterprise. Verisimilitude is the phenomenological consequence of this manipulation, and what makes it possible is the string. A string that provides both guidance through the labyrinth and, in its verticality, resistance to gravity and falling. The marionette’s string is the same string as that of the pendulum, which, if we can put it like this, is the most basic, simple and abstract of puppets possible.
Pendular movement is the generating element of the musical journey proposed in this recording. A playing with fundamental concepts such as the centre, weight, movement, trajectory, tension and suspension give shape to a compositional work that is closer to the codes of choreographic installation than to those of a musical exegesis. Mention is inevitable here, as references for possible elaborations of this kinetic universe, of the four hundred pendulums of Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time, by William Forsythe, or Pendulum Music, by Steve Reich. What differentiates Octavi Rumbau’s case is the fact that elaborations are embodied as networks of sound algorithms, as a source of forms, processes, materials and textures.
In one of the first interviews with the author, conducted by Albert Torrens and published in the magazine Revista Musical Catalana in 2009, Rumbau states, in relation to Le souk (2009), that «the work’s point of departure is this duality between structure and chaos: the piece passes through a series of processes outlined in broad strokes. At the centre of each of these strokes is an “organism” that acts with its own internal logic, yet without ever leaving aside a sense of the whole.» This concern for the organic mediating nature of duality, ambiguity and paradoxical relationships is a constant, throughout his work: fusion between acoustic sound and electronic sound, between the dynamic and the static, between a deliberate musical gesture and the accidental or fortuitous sound effect. These are the polarities that drive the composer’s research; and his interest in psychoacoustic effects derives naturally from his engagement with these polarities.