A live recording of an exhibition by Rafael Toral in Paris, "Engine" is like watching a butterfly evolve from a cocoon to all his chromatic splendour. Scored for guitar, bass and a series of devices ranging from feedback circuits to analogue modular systems, this piece shows once and for all Rafael is not just a "guitarist"; even the hypnotic character of his music is constantly developing to leave room to new bursts of sound and intelligent ideas. Putting a pretty complex mechanism into a forward-motion state, Toral lets you think while listening, all the while maintaining that "in-your-face" approach that separates him from the extremely academic and boring mass of "six string intellectuals" we're so fed up with. And when the butterfly finally starts his long fly, you've come to the last 15 minutes of the piece: droning guitars resplendent in all their beauty, hovering around for our amazement. [touchingextremes.org]




Few means for a great end. Portuguese guitarist/sound engineer Rafael Toral takes out his canvas and again shows his chops as a looper/soundscaper in an excellent release, continuing his work on a road already paved with good records like “Wave field” and “Aeriola frequency”. Toral's timbres are so delicate and particular, they possess a beauty of their own; this musician achieves the not easy result of keeping your mind relaxed even when frequencies explored are far from smooth territories. Even then, sounds keep flowing naturally, like a sunset colour with just a little bit of electricity. If you love “guitar painting”, Main, Plotkin, Ambarchi and so on, surely this is for you as Rafael has rapidly become one of the "good ones" in that land of nobody - and his music is pretty deep indeed.
[touchingextremes.org]

This release has one of the most beautiful titles I have ever seen and has the music to more than back it up, making it one of my favourite all-time ambient recordings. Violence... is a live show done at Toronto's Now lounge, where Raffael's music was said to have shattered the glass frames of the pictures in the venue by hitting just the right frequency. Toral, accompanied by Rob Wannamaker, a notable improviser in his own right, uses modulating sounds to create a continuous, hovering, meditative album that's suggestive of wordless realisations of the sages. Though the process of composing this music appears fairly complex, the results are simple, uncluttered and graceful. Long moments of subtle tremoring noises occur with build-ups that materialise out of a seemingly existential void, accompanied by vestiges of resonating string instruments. From darker, fear-filled parts to scaling redemptive heights of emotional exhilaration, this recording seems to mirror the experience of life itself. Somehow, Toral and Wannamaker managed to instil a sense of awe and wonderment, which is always a joy to behold, but happens so rarely. [Exclaim, Canada (net)]

Chasing sonic booms - an interview with Rafael Toral by Chad Oliveiri

Rochester, NY, June 2001

Rafael Toral's music first surfaced in this country back in 1997, when Jim O'Rourke and David Grubbs re-released his Wave Field on their Dexter's Cigar imprint. It was Toral's second record, originally released on the obscure Moneyland Records in his hometown of Lisbon, Portugal. Dedicated to composer Alvin Lucier and packaged in photos mimicking the artwork on My Bloody Valentine's Loveless album, Wave Field promises sprawling electric guitar minimalism. Liner notes make references to ambient music and "noise-charged clouds echoing some electrical radiation." In two long tracks and a short "radio edit," Wave Field conjures the essence of raw, noisy electric guitar distilled into a sort of molten lava. Toral takes the guitar -- rock music's dearest icon -- and unlocks it from its wood-and-wires structure, setting its resonant qualities free to form a giant swell of sound. Wave Field is ambient music that has actual teeth. It is rock music "made liquid, a flowing essence," Toral told the New York Press shortly after the record's re-release.

"I wanted to make an ambient piece that sounded like a thousand rock gigs reverberating from a distant hall." The recording brought Toral instant cache from the experimental music scene, and even some mainstream recognition. (Wave Field, somewhat inexplicably, turned up on Amazon.com's list of 100 best records released in the US that year.) It was followed by a flood of material: O'Rourke re-released Toral's official debut, Sound Body Sound Mind, on his Moikai label; Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace issued Chasing Sonic Booms, a collection of Toral improvisations in solo and duet contexts; Toral completed two new recordings -- Aeriola Frequency on Chicago's Perdition Plastics and Cyclorama Lift 3 on the German Tomlab label -- where he put his guitar aside to build luminous drones from pure electronic resonance. All of this activity eventually landed Toral a seat in the Music In Movement Electronic Orchestra (MIMEO) alongside experimentalists like musique concrète composer Jerome Noetinger and laptop musician Christian Fennesz. Toral compares performing in MIMEO to "being in the middle of a traveling tropical rainforest. It's like wading in an ocean of sound," he says. "There's this dense energy in the air every time we get together." We caught up with Toral via e-mail while he was in Lisbon, frantically preparing for a US tour that will bring him to the Visual Studies Workshop for a performance on Sunday, July 8. He'll be touring in support of his latest solo release, and first for the revered Touch label, Violence of Discovery and Calm of Acceptance.

The recording contains what Toral considers his strongest work -- a collection of uncharacteristically short guitar-based drones that he likens to miniature pearls. Painstakingly assembled from 1993 to 2000, Discovery is, in Toral's mind, the true successor to Wave Field. "It somehow embodies everything i've done in the past and at the same time expands into several new directions," he says. "It's the most meticulously crafted music i've ever made. Each track took months to complete. Actually, the method of composition I used was exactly the same used for Wave Field, layering and removing. I was like an archaeologist removing layers of sand from around a precious object, only I had to figure out what belonged and what had to go." It wasn't until after escaping the staid confines of traditional music education that Toral began to blossom as a sound artist. His CV cites his participation in composition seminars led by Emmanuel Nunes at the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, and courses in "analysis and composition techniques" at the Academia de Amadores de Música. But his enrollment at the Academia is listed as "not concluded." More drawn to sound as a physical presence than as an academic practice, Toral realized he wasn't interested in learning anything, but instead practicing the making of music "as an act of discovery in itself," he says. So he ventured off independently, landing a residency at Manhattan's Experimental Intermedia Foundation that introduced him to an important mentor --- musical minimalist and EIF founder Phill Niblock.

Then there was STEIM in Amsterdam, where Toral studied electric circuitry, and Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, where he served an internship for the development of an intermedia performance. (Visuals are an important aspect of Toral's work. He often performs accompanied by very minimal video footage he has compiled of airplanes landing, windmills spinning. The stills from this footage emboss a couple of his audio releases.) Toral's research into sound as a physical property and sound-making as a process of discovery formed the basis for his recording career. All of his recent pieces "start with a drawing of circuitry and procedures to do something; details on what gear is used, how it's used, and how it's connected." For his Rochester performance, Toral will premier Engine, a piece for modulated feedback that requires a raft of equipment. "In its original version, it takes a 13-foot-wide table full of stuff, including two guitars and a bass, a stereo amp and speakers (for feedback with the guitars), motors on the strings, most of the pedals I have, a mixer, and an analog modular system."

For his own sake, Toral has prepared a portable version of "Engines" based on electronic feedback as opposed to the electro-acoustic arrangement with the guitars. He'll need only the modular system and the mixer, with the "motor sounds" prepared on MiniDisc. "So most of the sounds will be made by empty circuits oscillating on their own and modulated by the modular's devices," he says. "It's played on two independent circuits, so it's like playing two versions of the piece simultaneously, one in the left channel and the other in the right." In interviews, Toral has always been very quick to cite his musical influences: Eno for his self-generating ambient music, John Cage for his theory that there is no such thing as silence, Lucier for his approach to resonance, Niblock for his music's sheer physicality, My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields for his melding of ethereal ambience with harsh textures... The list goes on, but it includes only musicians whose work Toral encountered in his youth. "Perhaps what strikes us most deeply does so at a time when we're young and discovering what is interesting," he says. "I've been fascinated by some friends of mine, like Kevin Drumm, Fennesz, Thomas Lehn, Kaffe Matthews, or Jerome Noetinger. (It's great for us to see each other working within MIMEO.) And there's Jim O'Rourke, of course. But their music doesn't get reflected in my work. When you're young, ideas come to you as a sort of revelation and open a lot of doors. In that process you become who you are. Then you just go on."

Rafael Toral has quite a few audio projects sitting on the shelf, awaiting his next free moment. One is an album of John Cage compositions that he recently revisited. "Some of it is quite radical," he says. "I still have to produce a version of Fontana Mix. It could take years, maybe not." Another is an album of music sourced from the resonance of various large bridges situated in cities across the world. He views bridges as large instruments just waiting to be tapped for their musical qualities. But the project, as you might guess, is a bit involved. "I need to work with all sorts of tools I don't have, like special filters," he says. "So far, I've only recorded a demo. But I might work on building these pieces with software in the future."

They come along nearly every other week: abstract solo-guitar records, full of electronic atmospheres, ambiguous tonality and titles like Measurement of Noise. But this album has a quality all its own: a gorgeous sensual timbre that hardly depends upon any conventional harmony, melody or pulse at all. The sound flows slowly from one grandiose texture to another. There's little of the violence promised by the title, other than the damage done to your preconceptions of what an electric guitar should sound like. The sustained opening of Quiet Mind sounds something like an enormous, distant choir; Optical Flow, for 12-string guitar, conjures the spectre of an underwater harp (or a child's musical bath toy). Toral crafted these electroacoustic miniatures between 1993 and 2000, using electric guitars and analogue technology. In his hands, the sonic debris customarily associated with distorted electric guitars is somehow rendered warm and comforting. Some pieces, like Energy Flow, come across at first like long drones, but they are the kind of drones that contain a plenty of detail and movement. Other pieces are like little studies for a particular noise, explorations of an instrument's idiosyncrasies within a narrow sound-frame. The final track, Mixed States Encoded, boasts "a recording of silence during a Space Shuttle real time webcast", but the guitar part is dangerously close to slack, indie-rock noodling. Toral sounds much happier when there are no chord sequences or rhythms to get in the way of the possibilities for overtones and sustained sound offered by his guitar collection. [John L. Walters, The Guardian]

More oceanic 'calm of acceptance' than 'violence of discovery', these ten Ambient meditations on treated electric guitar, gathered from the last seven years, are like a series of exquisitely poised and iridescent ragas. Hailing from Portugal, Toral's work has been compared to that of Robert Fripp in its exploration of the melodic colour of drones, loops and overtones, using only guitar and analogue equipment. Slow, broadly arcing and snaking coils of sound unfold like a gargantuan reverberating wind chime, or a labyrinth of vast organ pipes. Two or three drones will twist alongside each other, causing harmonic clouds that tremble and melt without setting up much rhythmic interference. The effect is deeply colourist. Whether it climbs its way out of the growling depths, or shimmers into appearance like a scraped gong, each track moves into the same kind of pitch range and lets the Aurora Borealis work its sonic wonders. 'Maersk Line' is more quavering , seesawing and abrasive, and this well judged introduction of movement helps to animate the second half of the album. 'Optical Flow' unexpectedly foregrounds more plucked chimes, falling upon each other like a music box. Other later tracks give a fuzzier feedback edge to the iridescent prowling of the drones, or use the puckered croak of slowly scraped guitar strings to provide stronger textures. The final track steps off into post-rock territory, with, for the first time, a downbeat strumming of plangent chords and a fuzzy background drone (provide, believe it or not, by a recording of 'silence' from a space shuttle mission, broadcast on the Web), which raises the spectre of My Bloody Valentine. Bliss with ballast. [Matt Ffytche, The Wire]

Rafael Toral's first album for Touch, 'Violence of Discovery and Calm of Acceptance' was crafted over a seven year period between 1993 and 2000. It shows. Barring "a recording of silence during a space shuttle mission real time webcast" on 'Mixed States Uncoded' Toral states that, "every sound was released by electric guitars". The result is one of the most beautiful guitar-generated albums you could possibly imagine. 'Violence of Discovery...' defies easy categorisation. As its gestation period doubtless indicates, it's much, much more than an album of guitar-generated drones. Toral's attention to detail and eye for subtlety is rarely matched and are qualities that set this release apart. Opening with the massed glissando of 'Desiree' sets the scene perfectly. Dense clusters of harmonics - which deserve a pair of quality headphones - glisten across the space of four minutes of sustained harmonies before easing gently into the wonderfully titled and evocative 'Measurement of Noise'. 'We are Getting Closer' is four minutes of pure heaven - the rippling sounds of water lapping against a distant shore... Closing with 'Mixed States Uncoded', is about as close to spine-tingling perfection as you could imagine. A slow grumble with high frequency counterpoint and a melody of sheer beauty, it unfolds slowly, but surely. A suggestion of beauty, wonderful. [Christopher Murphy, %Array,UK]

Incontrato recentemente a Bologna dove si é esibito con l'ensemble "aperto" MIMEO, Rafael Toral rivela fin da subito simpatia, disponibilitá e una naturale pacatezza. Come le dieci tracce del nuovo cd su Touch che scodella anche un titolo assai intrigante. Violenza della scoperta e calma dell'accettazione é cosí il seguito ideale di "Wave Field" o di "Aeriola Frequency" i dischi piú minimali ed ambient del musicista portoghese. Cambia perù l'estensione e la durata dei brani. Dieci infatti sono inusualmente stavolta, come tenui acquarelli figli di una stessa tela fatta di delicate trame ambientali. Detto cosí potrebbe sembrare un disco di sensibile fragilitá. No, tutt'altro, la mano di Toral é decisa ed attenta, egli sparge con cura i suoi colori, le sue tinte chiaroscurali, senza sbavature. Con meticolositá e parsimonia le sue chitarre Roland G-707, Fender Jaguar, Ibanez Silver Bass, 12 string Danelectro, descrivono di volta in volta i brevi ed onirici paesaggi: Desirée, Measurement of Noise, Quiet Mind, Maersk Line, Liberté, Optical Flow, Energy Nourish, Hay que trabajo me cuesta quererte como te quiero, We are getting Closer, sono piccole gemme raccolte e selezionate con cura negli ultimi sette anni. Semmai la loro brevitá ti impedisce di afferrarle prima del loro svanire. Nell'ultima traccia, Mixed States Uncoded, Rafael Toral offre un altro assaggio della sua passione per gli aerei e tutto ciù che solca il cielo e lo spazio, inserendo un background noise che altro non é che una registrazione di silenzio catturata via webcast in tempo reale, durante una missione dello Space Shuttle. (7/8) [Gino Dal Soler, Blow Up, Italy]

Toral, on the other hand [as opposed to Fennesz - ed.], likes to serve splendor straight up. Once more the cover gives clues to what lies within; Heitor Alvelos's photographs blend images of trees, power lines, and the sky with vibrant colors and twisting shapes that result from manipulations of photographic processes. Likewise, while nearly all of the sounds on this record issue from electric guitars (the last track has a little space noise that was recorded during a Space Shuttle mission), they don't often sound like they did. The Lisbon-based sound painter works so much within the realm of signal processing that it's a shock when, half way through the album, he first strikes some recognizable notes on "Optical Flow." Not until the closing piece "Mixed States Uncoded" does melody overtake texture. But what gorgeous textures! "Desirée" resonates like the inside of a vast bowed wine glass, "Liberté" and "Energy Flow" drone like distant propeller-driven airplanes, and on "Quiet Mind" feedback mingles with sonorities so voice-like that they seem to issue from some celestial choir. So many artists aim for beauty and come up with mere prettiness; on "Violence Of Discovery And Calm Of Acceptance" Toral hits the target. [Bll Meyer, Signal to Noise 23, USA]

Hier kommt jemand, der sich mit seiner elektrischen Gitarre so mittenrein zwischen die Stühle zwischen Eno, Budd und Brook setzt und mit seinen Drones, die nicht wirklich dronig sind, seinen Plinkereien, die alles andere als plinkerig sind und mit seinen Bergen von Effektgeräten, die mit Sicherheit von ungefähr 27 Laptops gesteuert werden müssen, aber eher wie ein Eisbegirge klingen, etwas für meine Begriffe Neues ausprobiert. Klar, Gitarren müssen nie so klingen wie ihr Name, aber wenn sie das nicht tun, will man es meistens auch nicht mehr hûren. Herrn Toral schon. Weh tut hier nichts, alles ist eher gro§ und erhaben und klingt nach einer gro§en flirrenden Symphonie in unbekannten Tonarten. Gibt es Menschen, die Max-Patches nur für Gitarren schreiben? Gro§. [Thaddi, debug, Germany]

For a number of years I have been enjoying the work of this Portugese guitarist Rafael Toral and found his work better and better with every new release. Highlight was the 'Aeriola Frequency' CD for Perdition Plastics, with it's two slowly evolving pieces of feedback, guitar and electronics. Sounds captured inside electrical systems, and automatically transformed. This new CD has ten tracks which sort of use the same ideas as developed on his previous CD's, but then in the context of a shorter piece. The power so far lies for me in the slow changes of his music, which of course is served best in a longer piece. Each piece uses just an electric guitar (except for one that also uses "the recording of silence during a Space Shuttle mission real time webcast"), but god knows how many effect box. Toral paints little pictures in sound, and if his previous releases were oil on canvas, this is sketches with pencil and paper. Usually fragile drone like music, that sets a certain atmosphere for a while and then moves on to the next one. 'Optical flow', the sixth track, is the first in which the guitar tinkles as a guitar. Delicate pieces and Toral succeeds well in doing his great things in a short context too. Beautiful stuff. [FdW, VITAL, The Netherlands)]

Even kennismaken? Rafael Toral is een jonge Portugese gitarist die daar aan het achtereind van Europa de fragielste soundscapes uit zijn gitaar tovert en er intussen een behoorlijke reputatie mee verwierf in de rest van de wereld. Mede onder de invloed van Brian Eno, Sonic Youth en My Bloody Valentine creÎert hij al vijftien jaar een unieke, experimentele geluidswereld. Toral werd enkele jaren geleden onder de arm genomen door Jim O'Rourke en kreeg meteen de kans om op het label van zijn mentor het door critici geprezen Sound Mind Sound Body uit te brengen. Nadien volgden nog Wave Field (op Dexter's Cigar/Drag City) en Aeriola Frequency (op Perdition Plastics). Toral werkte in de loop der jaren onder meer samen met John Zorn, Sonic Youth, Rhys Chatham en Phill Niblock. Hij maakt eveneens deel uit van MIMEO, het los/vast elektronisch collectief dat opgericht werd door Keith Rowe en onder meer Christian Fennesz, Peter Rehberg en Kaffe Matthews in zijn rangen telt. Violence of Discovery and Calm of Acceptance verzamelt tien stukken die Toral de laatste zeven jaar met uiterste zorg en precisie componeerde. Net als Fennesz en O'Rourke gebruikt hij de gitaar in combinatie met analoge technologie als een complex instrument waar hij subtiele en intrigerende drones uit puurt en de meest onmogelijke geluiden uit haalt. Violence of Discovery and Calm of Acceptance - wat een fantastische titel trouwens! - is zonder meer Toral's beste werk tot nu toe. Ook hier gebruikt hij weer alle technieken die hij op zijn vorige albums toepaste maar hier worden ze nog verder verfijnd. Het breekbare Mixed States Uncoded komt nog het meest in de buurt van een Fennesz track. De achtergrondgeluiden werden opgenomen tijdens de stilte van een real time webcast van een Space Shuttle missie. De eerste duizend exemplaren van Violence of Discovery and Calm of Acceptance komen bovendien in een speciale uitgebreide cd-verpakking met een boekje met mooie foto's van zijn landgenoot Heitor Alvelos. [Peter Wullen, The Ticket, Belgian net]

Rafael Toral's Wave Field (Moneyland, 1995) and Violence of Discovery and Calm of Acceptance (Touch, 2001) are two of the most gorgeous records of guitar music made in the past decade - and part of their beauty derives from how far they venture from the familiar language of the guitar. To create the surging ambient soundscapes of Wave Field, the Lisbon-born Toral ran the signal from his instrument through a battery of equalizers, filters, and other electronic effects, generating vivid tonal colors that flow as inexorably as lava. On Violence he's refined and intensified this palette, assembling ten concise, vibrant new compositions from guitar textures that sometimes sound like bowed wineglasses, tolling bells, or the rumbling of distant jets. In recent years Toral has also made compelling music without a guitar - he didn't touch a string throughout "Infinity Blur," a Cagean exploration of the limits of audibility that comprised the first set of a 1999 Chicago concert, instead relying on jury-rigged electronics; and he generated the lustrous, resonant sounds threaded through Aeriola Frequency (Perdition Plastics, 1998) by plugging two delay units into each other and modifying the looping feedback of this empty circuit with an equalizer. But this is the first time Toral has come to Chicago and simply left his guitar behind. He'll perform a new set-length composition, "Engine," with a Doepfer analog modular system and a mixer, manipulating twin channels of electronically generated feedback -- the only guitar sounds will be replayed from minidiscs. [Bill Meyer, Chicago Reader, USA]

Packaged in an oversize sleeve with stunning imagery by photographer Heitor Alvelos (with art direction by Jon Wozencroft, of course), the latest CD by Portuguese artist Rafael Toral is a wonder to behold. Each of the ten tracks on this disc uses only the sounds from electric guitars (he catalogues them in the liner notes), with the exception of the final track, where the background noise is taken from "a recording of silence during a Space Shuttle mission real time webcast". Delicate shifts and shifting drones in each of these relatively short tracks create some wonderful atmospheres. Toral has an undeniable talent for creating self-contained moods and textures; each track is unique, developing in its own rhythm and direction, yet at the same time each carries Toral's singular voice. The guitar only rarely sounds like a guitar, as in "Optical Flow", or in the strumming of the closing piece "Mixed States Uncoded". Instead, Toral's art rests in the transformations of his sound source; roughness is transformed into gentility, a chord is transformed into a stunning drone. Silence and sound interact in these pieces to great effect; the listener treasures the continuous ebb and flow of this wondrous music. Highly recommended.
[Richard di Santo, Incursion]

Released simultaneously as an LP on Staubgold and a CD on Touch, Violence of Discovery and Calm of Acceptance marked an effort toward accessibility for Rafael Toral without comprising his artistic integrity. The ten tracks are short, mostly three to five minutes long with one notable exception. The music follows a soothing mood, easy to get into on a superficial level, fascinating when studied more closely. Loops of aerial electric guitars produce ambient soundscapes retaining little connexions with their instrument of origin. A few delicate melodies are encrusted in some of these constructions (like on Liberté), simple lines reminiscent of Loren Mazzacane Connors, Biosphere, or even Fennesz' Endless Summer (released at about the same time). On the closing Mixed States Uncoded one finds a post-rockish lazy nostalgia that was quite impossible to imagine upon hearing the opener Désirée, a soundscape much closer to something that would come out of a metallic sound sculpture than an electric guitar. Yet these differences all fall into place
[All-Music Guide]

Het uitgangspunt voor de composities van de Portugees Rafael Toral is balans zoeken door het herwerken van zijn improvisaties. Daarbij hanteert Toral al meer dan vijftien jaar zijn gitaar als elektronisch (studio) materiaal: hij focust niet op klassieke muziekeigenheden als de melodie of op het ritme, maar schenkt veeleer aandacht aan het schijnbaar onbelangrijke detail. De emotionele spanningsboog die een aangehouden snaarakkoord kan oproepen, bijvoorbeeld. Zijn elektrische gitaar bewerkt Toral met analoge elektronica, teneinde het geluid uit te puren en nog een stapje dichter bij de essentie van het geluid te treden. Met die techniek ‹ een gelijke aan die van senior Phill Niblock ‹ creÎert Toral sonore landschappen bestaande uit esoterische drones die geen enkel verband meer vertonen met de instrumenten waar ze aan ontsproten. Na een drietal albums en muzikale collaboraties met onder andere John Zorn, Christian Fennesz en Jim O'Rourke, trok Toral voor dit werk zeven jaar uit: Violence Of Discovery And Calm Of Acceptance zou zijn magnum opus moeten worden. De Portugees slaagt met brio: in de tussentijd verschenen werkstukken als het briljante Aeriola Frequency (1999) lijken nu slechts aanlopen voor deze langspeler. De eerste secondes van de opener Désirée, dicht op elkaar gestapelde geluidslagen, sleuren je meteen in een haast religieuze trance, een duik onder het wateroppervlak die steeds dieper gaat en intensifieert naarmate het album vordert. Na een half uur in de gewichtsloze duisternis te toeven, introduceert Toral in Liberté een voorzichtig akoestisch motief. Een ontlasting van korte duur: in de volgende track wordt Torals densiteit nog drukkender en krijgt het geÎxploreerde sonore oppervlak pijnlijk stekelige kantjes. Toral sluit in volmaakte schoonheid af met het naar zijn normen verrassend lichte Mixed States Uncoded: een cirkelende loop van gebroken noise waarover Toral zijn grootse gitaartalent opnieuw ten volle demonstreert.
[Ive Stevenheydens, tijd cultuur, Belgium]

Rafael Toral has been recording guitar music for the last 15 years - experimenting with it and collaborating with a range of other artists. This is his first release from Touch, the first 1000 copies coming in envelope like card sleeve. A sleeve which includes the photography of Portuguese artist Heitor Alvelos. As an album Violence Of Discovery And Calm Of Acceptance is a mix of understated guitar melodies, floating and minimal construction, within which we can hear the light vibrations of strings and the atmospheric impact of those. On the whole the piece give the impressions of being relatively short, keeping the feel of the tracks in check so that they express what they have to within controlled layers before moving on. Though with that there is a steady consistency that carries through that progression. At times there are possible comparisons to the wind sounds of Hazard or the catching glitched guitar of Fennesz. Desiree, glimmering opening of guitar, light layers adding to the gentle impression. Turning in drifting fashions. Followed by Measurement Of Noise, which builds from a very quiet level of sound, flickering warmth, with a brushing of bass. Heading towards drone in its long drawn out development. Quiet Mind draws out the drone into tightly layered sound. With Maersh Line we have a straining bass ridge, rising in a vibrant chromatic edge that attempts to break out further. Liberte has rotary twitches with little glitch catches, giving a very fluid impression against a light brushing wind. Optical Flow is more pronounced with notes picked out within the backing bass drift. Energy Nourish brings rounded tones, which provide an almost gong like drone, with light motions behind that. As the album continues there seems to be a grater tendency for tracks to become more pronounced with progression. Hay Que Trabajo Me Cuesta Quererte Como Te Queiero is a mild rumble of tones, with stray sounds in the background, weaving together in an extended bubbling stream. We Are Getting Closer captures warm flickering drones, which wrap light plinking notes with hypnotic results. The last track, Mixed States Uncoded, is a different piece with its spattering of light noise to start with leading to the clear strums of guitar against a stark sighing background. [RVWR: PTR, remote induction, UK]

Released simultaneously as an LP on Staubgold and a CD on Touch, Violence of Discovery and Calm of Acceptance marked an effort toward accessibility for Rafael Toral without comprising his artistic integrity. The ten tracks are short, mostly three to five minutes long with one notable exception. The music follows a soothing mood, easy to get into on a superficial level, fascinating when studied more closely. Loops of aerial electric guitars produce ambient soundscapes retaining little connections with their instrument of origin. A few delicate melodies are encrusted in some of these constructions (like on "Liberté"), simple lines reminiscent of Loren Mazzacane Connors, Biosphere, or even Fennesz' Endless Summer (released at about the same time). On the closing "Mixed States Uncoded" one finds a post-rockish lazy nostalgia that was quite impossible to imagine upon hearing the opener, "Désirée," a soundscape much closer to something that would come out of a metallic sound sculpture than an electric guitar. Yet these differences all fall into place to form a beautifully sequenced record that can be enjoyed as an ambient album or as a wicked gem of guitar mastery. The first 1,000 copies of the CD edition came packaged in a stunning wallet. Strongly recommended. [allmusic.com, Francois Couture]

Portugal's Rafael Toral makes music almost archetypically ambient: slow, shimmering drones that revolve around a single point; blurred bursts of light like a succession of dying starts; liquid electricity given flight. All the more impressive then that he ignores banks of synthesizers in favor of guitars and and oodles of delay. The ten tracks here sound marginally more dynamic than previous releases for Tomlab and Jim O'Rourke's Moikai, but that's not to say they are easy to grasp: like orbs of frozen energy, they melt and trickle through your fingers before you've had the chance to realise that your hands are empty. There's a radical simplicity here: you sense that Toral isn't forcing anything, just letting things exist as they are. Violence... is a breathtaking glimpse into the unadorned sphere of being. [Philip Sherburne, XLR8R, USA]

Rafel Toral is one of a newer generation of experimental guitarists who strive to wrestle the last drops of possibility from an instrument from which so much diverse noise (never mind melody) has been extracted already that it's no wonder that the only really drastic step left to take is to deconstruct the whole thing digitally. So following in the string bends and preparations of the likes of Robert Hampson, Lee Renaldo, Jim O'Rourke, Derek Bailey and so on, Toral opts for the deceptively simple approach of making the guitar sing the body and neck electric. Through ten tracks of uncurling analogue electronics and string-driven sounds, Violence Of Discovery and Calm Of Acceptance is crafted into an album of ambience which even manages to include the sound of amplified silence on a Space Shuttle mission launch webcast, a trick of which Eno would no doubt be proud. Tones and drones luxuriate without lounging or wafting into the realms of pomposity or self-indulgence - the feeling generated is more that Rafael Toral is actively listening to the sounds he's making as both an outsider and creator. Regardless of the truth or not of this impression, the end result is a disc which roams from the rising effects trails into the tightly-controlled diversion of feedback into rhythms and half-framed melodies and chords, plateauing in areas where the sounds become scratchily electrical rather than merely plain and simply electronic. Tracks like "Mixed States Uncoded" bring to mind the better days of Flying Saucer Attack, conjouring an evocatively meditative quality from the guitars (and bass in this case) which inspires a gentle relaxation into the flow of the by-now uplifting music. [freq.org, net]

...to turn to rafael toral and his recent “violence of discovery and calm of acceptance” being both out as an lp on staubgold and as a cd on touch. Gotta admit that was my first touch with rafael’s sound as unfortunately didn’t have the chance to listen to his earlier works and gotta admit that I really enjoyed this one, especially for his ability to create some really stunning atmospheres varying in forms and textures from dense layers to more “minimal” drones that make you always be concentrated (and don’t get bored at all!) and enjoying this marvelous play of flowing soundscapes! www.staubgold.com (for the lp) or www.touch.demon.co.uk (for the cd) [Absurd, Greece]

and in french here from Matamore