Review: Arturo Parra’s ‘Terra Incognita’ Shows Range and Depth

a2905640673_16[1]Terra Incognita
Arturo Parra
La Grenouille Hirsute)

‘Sound portraits’ by extraordinary guitarist show range and depth

Colombian-born Arturo Parra is a creative spirit, whose uncompromising Parr(A)cousmatique (reviewed in CG in May 2004) achieved the lasting distinction of being challenging and rewarding in equal measure. This release differs in that all the contents are Parra originals (as opposed to commissions and collaborations involving other composers) and also that, although there are occasional sounds apparently emanating from something other than Parra’s 1984 Contreras guitar, electronics are no longer central to proceedings.


What we do get is seven extended movements that are “sound portraits” in a more literal sense than is customary—the names of Parra’s voluntary subjects being absent from the track listing but revealed in the program notes. The concept may feel a little intrusive to some, but the performances are compelling, Parra’s intoxicating capacity to shape and develop a murmuring ostinato commanding the listener’s attention throughout. His claim that “[the] other life you imagine yourself peering into . . . may in fact be your own” is perhaps stretching it a bit, but the music alone makes Terra Incognita a welcome offering from an artist of extraordinary power.

Paul Fowles