MANONGO MUJICA AND TERJE EVENSEN-PARACAS RITUAL

Manongo Mujica and Terje Evensen-Paracas Ritual.

Label: Buh Records.

Format: 2 x LP.

Manongo Mujica has been a leading light of the Peruvian avant-garde music scene since the seventies, and has met a myriad of musicians who were touring Peru. In 2003, this included Norwegian drummer, sound designer, teacher and composer Terje Evensen who was in the middle of a six week tour with Peruvian guitarist Andrés Prado. 

Some nights, the duo collaborated with local musicians. This included a concert at a club called Jazz Zone in Miraflores. That was the night that Manongo Mujica and Terje Evensen first met. 

Straight away, Norwegian drummer was hugely impressed by Manongo Mujica’s energy and the music that he was making. However, he had no idea that one day they would eventually collaborate on an album.

Over the next twelve years, the two musicians had little contact. This changed when Terje Evensen returned to Lima in 2015, and he heard how Manongo Mujica was fascinated by the Paracas desert. This was enough to pique the visiting drummer’s interest. He wanted to know more about the desert peninsula located within the province of Pisco, in the Ica Region, on the Southern coast of Peru. However, he didn’t have enough time to investigate on this trip.

Two years later in 2017, Terje Evensen was about to return to and wanted to visit the Paracas desert. The only problem was he wasn’t sure how to get there. That was when he decided to phone Manongo Mujica.  He invited Terje Evensen to travel to the desert with him.

The pair stayed in a small hotel called Inti-Mar which was situated on the coast. This was their base during their time they spent in the desert and in the bay of Paracas, South of Lima, on the Peruvian coast. It was also where the pair discovered they shared much in common. This included music. They had met fourteen years earlier,  in 2003, but had never spent as much time together.

Each day began in the Inti-Mar hotel which was also a scallop farm. This meant the two musicians were able to enjoy a breakfast of fresh scallops before they journeyed deep into the desert and stayed until it got dark. 

Every day, the pair visited different parts of the Paracas desert where they made field recordings. Each and every new place they visited they discovered was unique. This included the sounds they recorded as well as the smell and atmosphere they encountered. It was a voyage of discovery.

The two men walked in a companionable silence contemplating life, music and more, basking in the beauty of the Paracas desert on what had become a personal voyage of discovery. As they crossed the arid, barren desert there was more than an air of mystery. They walked across what was remote, ancient and sacred place that commanded respect. 

For some who have journeyed deep into the desert they’ve described it as akin to a journey into the unknown. Some adventures and travellers remember the intensity of the local winds known as paracas, others the dizzying heat and some the sounds that assailed them during their journeys. Manongo Mujica and Terje Evensen were especially interested in the sounds of the vast Paracas desert that measures 3350 km².

As they travelled to different parts of the desert they discovered that each part they visited had its own unique sonic fingerprint which they committed to tape. These field recordings were akin to the spirit of the Paracas desert and had been captured forevermore. The time spent eavesdropping on the landscape gave the Manongo Mujica and Terje Evensen opportunity to expand their musical consciousness. It was a gift from the gods and one that they decided to share.

Like all good things, the time that Manongo Mujica and Terje Evensen spent in the Paracas desert came to an end and they left the Inti-Mar hotel. However, that wasn’t an end to the time they would spend together. Some of the field recordings would be used when Manongo Mujica and Terje Evensen collaborated on  an album. This was Paracas Ritual which was recently released as double album by Buh Records.

With the field recordings they had made the veteran  Peruvian avant-garde musician Manongo Mujica began to collaborate on a new album with Terje Evensen. He was an experimental musician, sound designer, composer, drummer and teacher. The pair used as inspiration for the album variety of sources and subjects.

This included the sounds that they had recorded in the desert and in the bay. They had spent days listening to them when they recorded them and afterwards. This was part of the inspiration for Paracas Ritual. So were Pauline Barberi’s photographs of the Paracas landscapes and paintings by Manongo Mujica. They had been part of a visual project and were used as a reference point and to compliment the recordings. The visual was an important inspiration for the album.

During their careers, Manongo Mujica and Terje Evensen have both been interested and inspired by the worlds of synesthesia. This is the concept of listening to images and in using sounds as pictorial material. In this case, listening to the sound of the Paracas desert is also a way of listening to the visual field of the landscape, and turning it into an acoustic impression of the mind. The four lengthy soundscapes on Paracas Ritual features these impressions. 

Eclectic describes the four soundscapes that feature on the four sides of Paracas Ritual. They’re also ambitious, innovative, genre-melting and cinematic. It’s as if Manongo Mujica and Terje Evensen have been asked to compose the soundtrack to a long lost Wim Wenders’ film. 

To do this, they fuse elements of ambient and avant-garde with experimental music, free improvisation, library music and modern jazz. Add to this a myriad of electronic sounds, as well as field recordings, percussive instruments and sound art. They’re part of complex musical montages that veers between atmospheric and spacious to dramatic and intense. Other times, the soundscapes become abstract and dissonant but sometimes become melodic and rhythmic. Sometimes, the soundscapes take a welcome detour in the direction of meditative percussive music allowing the listener to ruminate and reflect. However, occasionally as musical genres and languages melt into one the soundscapes venture into unknown musical territories. The terrain like parts of the Paracas desert is very different to what’s gone before. It’s a case of expect the unexpected during the sprawling soundscapes on Paracas Ritual.

It’s a groundbreaking album of genre-melting soundscapes from musical pioneers Manongo Mujica and Terje Evensen who reflect and remember the time they spent in the desert capturing, listening and later, making the music on Paracas Ritual which is a captivating musical adventure that sometimes is akin to a journey into the unknown.

Manongo Mujica and Terje Evensen-Paracas Ritual.

 

 

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