Indústria was recorded during the 2015 edition of OUT.FEST, an experimental musical gathering that takes place across the river from Lisbon, Portugal. It says something about the inexhaustibility of AMM’s improvisational methodology that the group, which was celebrating its 50th anniversary that year, would merit presence at such a bill.
The album is named after the venue, a former power plant repurposed as a museum. But the title also reflects a way in which the group has come back to its beginnings. In the 1960s, when AMM sometimes appeared on the same London bills as Pink Floyd, the ensemble turned its back on virtuoso display and embraced volume to such an extent that some of its early recordings sounded like the blare of a factory in action. While you could never say that about AMM 50 years hence, it’s nonetheless true that the acoustics of an industrial structure are an essential element of the music on Indústria. AMM’s music is an ongoing investigation of its own music and the circumstances in which it’s made.
At the time of this recording, the group numbered just two musicians: percussionist Eddie Prévost and pianist John Tilbury. But from the album’s first exploratory sounds, you can hear them not only sustaining their music’s ongoing dialogue, but assessing its qualities within the venue’s lively acoustic space. Each short keyboard phrase, plucked piano wire and stroke upon a cymbal or drumhead is paradoxically amplified and rendered small by the room’s sound, and both musicians leave space to see what the environment will make of their gestures. These actions aren’t ends in themselves, however; each moment is inhabited fully, then experienced, then left as the music evolves.
Although at this point AMM’s sound is an instantly identifiable product of the exquisitely controlled but unsentimentally applied touches of two great musicians, it nonetheless evolves over the course of a single encounter, as even familiar sounds change in relationship to each other. The exploration continues.