Pablo Chin on Fonema's debut album

It has always struck me that Mauricio Pauly and I took coincidentally similar paths in our compositional careers. We left our native Costa Rica at different times but around the same age, both to study composition in Miami. We later continued our journeys up north, in Boston and Chicago, respectively. Now Mauricio lives in Manchester, UK, while I settled down in Chicago, but we have coincided again multiple times in international festivals, such as the Summer Courses for New Music in Darmstadt in 2010 and 2012. Our music has also matured along the way. Fonema Consort's debut album (partially funded by the Costa Rican Association of Musical Authors, ACAM, through their "Dotación Musical" grant), bears witness to this maturing process, and is comprised of the vocal chamber works Pauly and I have written.

The pieces on this CD showcase a wide range of texts and imagery, from references to Hieronymus Bosch in the poetry of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, to the mythology of Mesoamerica in the ancient Popol Vuh. The essence of these pieces comes from the experimental nature of their sound world, derived from the phonetic content of texts from various authors from the Americas.This results in a deep research on vocal and instrumental possibilities to match and extend the inherent sonic quality of words, and to find common ground between such diverse possibilities (e.g. plosives and tongue clicks in the voice, slap tones and key clicks in wind instruments, thimbles on a bass drum, muffled tones, brushed strings in a piano, etc.). This album thus crystallizes Fonema Consort’s mission to foster the exploration of vocal and linguistic possibilities in today’s music, in this case featuring a rich palette of non-traditional sounds derived from imaginative treatments of the texts chosen by Pauly and I.

This album is a joint collaboration of Fonema Consort, with Alex Inglizian of the Experimental Sound Studio (ESS) (recording, mixing and mastering), and Fonema's long term collaborators Benjamin Knight (art work and design), Marc Perlish (photography) and Etha Williams (musicologist).

The recording of the pieces took place in November and January, through six intense and adventurous sessions that included Mauricio's visit from the UK during the Polar Vortex days! Despite the record low temperatures, Fonema's musicians brought all their warmth into the making of the music.

The release of Pasos en otra calle consists of three dates in May: on the 6th the digital album will be available for download through New Focus Recordings; on the 7th, Fonema will present the CD in Costa Rica, with a concert at the Sala Maria Clara Cullel; on the 24th, Chicagoans will have the opportunity to acquire physical copies of the CD during a concert with the Outer Ear Festival at ESS.