dUASsEMIcOLCHEIASiNVERTIDAS is a quartet that comes from Lisbon, formed actually by Boris Nunes (bass), Desmarques (guitar), Diogo Vouga (drums) and Matthieu Ehrlacher (saxophone). Their sound is characterized by plastic and free-improvised sonorities with an almost ethnic and experimental approach at the same time. Band with a fervid cosmopolitan and DIY attitude, in 2022 they released the last album 卌, with a massive noise and free creativity with respect to the previous records, whereas it’s more relevant a traditional and peculiar craftsmanship in the sign of free improvisation.
We analyzed in depth the dSCi music and production through an interview with the reference quartet. Following our interview.
So, can you tell us how the DuasSemiColcheiasInvertidas adventure was born? How this free improvisational sound influenced by a punk-noise attitude find its reason for being?
“dUASsEMIcOLCHEIASiNVERTIDAS (dSCi) were born around 2007 in Lisbon. Boris, the bass player and Henry, the original drummer, were longtime friends and for some time they lived in a squat in the suburbs of Lisbon (in Mem Martins, near Sintra) and would often spend time in another squat called Zaragata in Setúbal (a harbor city 50km south of Lisbon with a strong squatting scene). There they would often jam together as the opening act for concerts of punk/hardcore/crust bands, also with a d-beat/crust/improv band they had called Jesus Crime, from which dSCi did a cover of a song named “Canzone dal Zaragata”. Later they started to rehearse with the saxophone player Flapi, who was coming from a jazz background but had a wide musical horizon and experience. And after trying out with another guitar player, Boris invited Desmarques to join this embryonic project, still nameless and without concerts. Desmarques was coming from a post-rock/noise-rock background but was also interested in many other musical forms and had been connected to the DIY scene since 2003, when he started organizing concerts in a collective named Brigada Surreal. Around the same time he was in a band called Lemur that eventually entered a hiatus in 2006, so when Boris asked him to play with this project in gestation he gladly accepted.
“After some rehearsals, still without a name for the project and mainly doing improvised music but already with some structured bases, we were invited to replace a band in the last day of a punk/hardcore festival in a squat in Setúbal area, Flapi wasn’t available for this concert but we decided to play anyway. Soon after that we started rehearsing with a keyboard player who was part of Ponkies, an acoustic-punk band for kids where Boris was also playing, but Flapi and him never even met in the rehearsals until our next concert, which was in a place in Lisbon called Espaço Centro de Desastres on the 25th May 2007. This was our first official concert and the date that we consider to be our birth, since it was the first time we used our name, which at the time was just a symbol of two reversed eighth-notes that we found in a comic book for Desmarques’ sister Mariana M.. to use in the corresponding poster. This was also the first time we used Associação Terapêutica do Ruído (ATR) as the name of our DIY concert promoter. Then after a few concerts Henry literally disappeared and was nowhere to be found, many years later he was diagnosed with autism spectrum condition and although he was a musical genius, at the time he was very hectic and unpredictable. So Zé Trigueiros, who at the time was playing percussion in Ponkies and drums in another project from Boris called Complot, replaced him and became part of the band, which around that time got the final name, that came from a mistake when opening our myspace page, instead of writing two reversed eighth notes (“duas colcheias invertidas”) someone wrote two reversed sixteenth notes (“duas semicolcheias invertidas”) and since we couldn’t always use the symbol it ended up becoming a name and to make it even more confusing we started writing it all the words together with inverted capital letters.
“In those first times we were playing a lot of concerts, mostly around Lisbon and Setúbal areas and we were constantly changing our formation and having a lot of guests playing with us, musically, songs became more and more structured but always keeping open parts for improvisation and almost all the concerts started with an improvised intro. And little by little ATR, which had begun as our own concert promoter and label, also started hosting foreign bands/musicians and dSCi was the opening act for a lot of these concerts. By the end of 2008, soon after having released our first EP, we went on our first tour abroad, which was a kind of spontaneous and improvised tour, but which made us realize that it was actually possible to do it in a DIY way. After that many more concerts, tours and records followed, in the first years there were constant changes of lineups and more than 20 members and around 100 guests have played with us, the only ones that remained the whole time were Boris and Desmarques, even if there were a few concerts where either one or the other didn’t play.”
The 4 album (released in 2012 by the following labels: Associação Terapêutica Do Ruído, A Giant Fern, Another Shame, Experimentáculo Records, Human Feather, Fooltribe, Eclectic Polpo Records) is denoted by more abrasive sonorities, with plastic craftsmanship influenced by noise, free jazz, and Balkan/middle-eastern sounds. The record appears more classic in any single choice but very pleasant at the same time, and in totality it appears original, as it is shown in the final track Movimento Daquilo Que Vai E Vem Alternadamente De Um Ponto A Outro, a very experimental, fervid suite. Can you tell us the story behind this release and its creative process?
“After our two first EPs (“I” in 2008 and “II” in 2009), where almost all of the tracks were fully composed but also had some improvised parts, we released the tape “SADITREVNiSAIEHCLOcIMEsSAUd” in 2010 through the label A Giant Fern, where we explored a more free-improvised form. All these first releases had slightly different lineups but the drummer was always Zé Trigueiros, who played with us until 2011, when he went to live in Amsterdam. So once again we had to change drummers and Gee Bees joined the band. At the time he had a solo drum project and had also played with Boris in the past in a band called Gosma and his way of playing might be one of the reasons for the more abrasive sonorities you mention, since he was coming from a punk/hardcore/metal background. In the summer of 2011, a few months after returning from our 4th tour, we decided it was time for us to finally release a LP in vinyl, so all the 7 members we had at the time gathered in a studio in Lisbon, which had been one of our first rehearsal rooms and during 4 days we recorded 6 tracks for side A and in the last day we did a long improvisation for side B, where we all played simultaneously in different rooms, including Zé Trigueiros, who at the time was in Lisbon for some days of vacations and joined in with a second drum set.
“The 6 composed tracks from side A had already been played live many times in the previous years but they got different arrangements not only due to the entry of Gee Bees in the band but also due to the participation of all these 7 members together, something which had never happened before until this recording session. Many kinds of instruments and sounds were used, hence the plastic craftsmanship you mention: besides the second drum set in side B, Zé Trigueiros also played percussions in a few tracks of side A; the keyboard player, added a second saxophone in some of those tracks; soRRisoeMeio, our clown/juggler, contributed with some real sound effects like the snoring in “33 Anos sem Dormir”, the glass breaking in “Corta-Unhas” or the balloon stretching in “Nacho Vidal”, developing further the sound inventions he had already tried in our previous release; and Flapi, also played flute in “Nacho Vidal” and harmonica and a turkish wind instrument on the improvisation in side B, which together with the use of multiple saxophone tracks might have brought those balkan/middle-eastern sounds you refer to. Other than that some ethio-jazz influences can be found on the track “Encefalia Espongiforme”.
“The final track which you mention was the result of that long improvisation we did in the last day of the recordings, we ended up with a couple of hours of different musical moods and soundscapes, which we then chose and edited to fit side B. Other excerpts of this improvisation were also used in the track “Vaivém” from our split-tape with the band Cangarra in 2013 and in the track “MMMMM” that came out in the compilation “2112 – Songs For The Apocalypse” by the end of 2012. For the vinyl edition we gathered some labels to take part in the release together with our own Associação Terapêutica do Ruído and for the artwork we had 4 different variations of the cover done by Mariana M. and 4 different inlays from 4 other artists friends of ours. The record was mixed by João Buga aka Buga das Koubz, who ended up joining the band some months after the release of the record, which happened in February 2012.”
Your split with PARPAR (2018, produced by Associação Terapêutica Do Ruído, A Besta, Epicericords, Gaffer Records, Experimentáculo Records, Et Mon Cul C’est Du Tofu?, Panda Records, Lepers Produtcions, Enough Records) has a strong rhythmic component, where every song appears intelligent and broadly danceable at the same time. I can see a certain similarity with the Italian trio Zu, with a less dark creativity, but an energetic craftmanship in a more sunny sense. How were those songs and the collaboration with PARPAR?
“After “4” was released we went on a tour in Europe that was supposed to be the longest we ever did: 70 concerts in 80 days in 17 countries and since Gee Bees wasn’t able to join us for this very long tour, another drummer friend of his took the place temporarily. Unfortunately we would never finish this tour because the van we were using broke down halfway through it and it was impossible to repair it on time to continue the tour, so we ended up splitting the tour in three legs and even though we never managed to do all the planned concerts we still played 50 shows abroad that year. Once the tour had ended Gee Bees came back to the band, but soon after we had to change drummers again and João Capela aka Chatpela joined. At the time he was also starting another band called Da Monstra with guitar player Pedro Arelo, who’d later form the band PARPAR. Less than one year after he had joined our band, João Capela died suddenly in the beginning of 2014 and so Gee Bees joined the band again for a short time until we went back to full improvisation form, playing with other drummers friends of ours and later also with BA on electric double-bass. In 2016 we were invited by our friends from A Besta collective/label to do a split-tape with their free-rock-improv band Cardíaco and the result was “Chains Split Tape Vol. 2”, which features “Bursite”, a 45 minute track made of parts of a longer improvisation recorded with a one-time-only formation that included Gee Bees, Flapi and BA, besides Boris and Desmarques. To promote this tape we booked some concerts with Cardíaco but once again Gee Bees wasn’t able to do these dates so Diogo Vouga, our current and longest lasting drummer, joined the band as a last minute replacement and after these concerts he convinced us that it was time return to a more structured form, so we went back to the rehearsal room for him to learn some of our old songs and for us to start making new ones. In the meantime Da Monstra, the other band of João Capela, continued with another drummer for a while and eventually Pedro Arelo started PARPAR with João Sousa from Cardíaco and A Besta on the drums and him on the saxophone.
“Our two bands (dSCi and PARPAR) shared the stages many times and besides the longtime friendship we had with both members of PARPAR and all the affinities we shared with them, including the tragic loss of João Capela, the two bands recorded in the same studio (Hukot in Barcelona) one week away from each other, during their tours in 2017 and so for all these reasons we thought it was a great idea to do a split vinyl together, which was finally released in the following year, a few months after a one-week tour of the two bands through the Iberian Peninsula.
“The two sides of the split were recorded by our friend Milo Gomberoff (bass player/singer of the chilean band Familea Miranda, with which we played many times and which was the first international act hosted by our ATR), who also worked in our EP “II” and has done the mastering of most of our discography. For our side we recorded 5 tracks, three of which were old numbers that had never been recorded on studio and the other two were already made with Diogo on the drums, anyway his contribution in all the tracks brought the power and the cohesion that we were missing in the previous years, hence that strong rhythmic component that you mention. The track “Jean-Louis is not a crime” starts with a sample from a young kid, which was recorded by João Capela during our tour in 2013 and that we’d been using ever since. And for another of the older tracks, “Dr. Músculo”, probably the most danceable one, we invited Pedro Arelo to join with his baritone saxophone, which was recorded and added later, though we had already played it live with him in some occasions. In the end we couldn’t fit the 5 tracks in our side of the split vinyl so we decided to release separately the most recent one, “Poda”, as a single and for side B we did a slightly shorter version of the track “Benco”, which was named after the van that a concert promoter in France lent us so we could finish the third leg of our tour in 2012. The “Poda/Enco” single was released as a 7” vinyl in the beginning of 2018, months before the split came out, in a very limited edition of 33 copies, each one with artwork made by a different artist. For PARPAR’s side they chose to re-record two tracks from their first album “TAPTAP”, but this time with André Calvário aka Jorge on bass, and an improvisation recorded live on studio called “HUKHUK”, also with André, who was another member of Cardíaco and A Besta and who went on tour with them in 2017. And so besides our ATR and their A Besta we gathered some more labels to take part in this release and for the artwork we invited Katafu, the guitar player/singer of Familea Miranda, who had previously done the artwork for our EP “II” and also contributed with one of the inlays in “4”.”
Live record …thus in shit begins the new world (2021, Associação Terapêutica do Ruído, Éditions Ismael), with the samples by the American poetess Kathy Acker, has a more visceral, spontaneous form, with the previous reinterpreted track, in addition, the indirect contribution of the spoken word reading by the artist influenced by the beat generation poets. So how did happened this release and its interesting concept?
“This live record comes from a concert we did at ZDB (Lisbon) in October 2019 for the release party of the book “Kathy Acker 1971-1975”, a collection of early unpublished writings from Kathy Acker published by Éditions Ismael. After a very intense year in which we had made two tours, one in Spain, France and Italy in March/April and another one throughout the whole Russia in June/July, Rodrigo Pereira, who was doing live video projections and who had joined the band earlier that year, went to live abroad just before this concert and so the remaining trio decided to invite the saxophonist Matthieu Ehrlacher, since we wanted to do a unique concert for this very special occasion and somehow merge our music with the work of Kathy Acker.
“Boris collected and edited the samples of Kathy’s voice and we did a few rehearsals with Matthieu, adapting the tracks we had been playing so frequently in the last months, including the ones from our split vinyl with PARPAR and some that would later appear in “卌”, to these samples and to the participation of Matthieu, who finally used not only different kinds of saxophones but also vocals, whistles and other objects. So these tracks gained new and fresh arrangements and maybe because of that and also because of the live feeling, they ended up having this more visceral and spontaneous form that you mention.
“We were very happy with the final result and since the live recording made by our friend Kellzo, the sound engineer for this event, was so well done, we decided to release it digitally through our ATR, together with Éditions Ismael. In the meantime Matthieu became a full-time member of the band and soon after that the pandemic crisis arrived, so finally the release only happened in April 2021, when we had already recorded what would become “卌”. The artwork was made by Catarina Santos, who had also done the design for the book and for the poster of the release party.”
卌 (2022, Associação Terapêutica do Ruído, Bar Marfil Records, Experimentáculo Records, Gaffer Records, Lepers Produtcions, Neon Paralleli, Red Wig, TECNOFOSSIL, Wallace Records, Enough Records) is characterized by new, dark psychedelia. In the record, punk-jazzcore-noise sonorities dominate with synth parts and they evoke electronic/post-punk feelings. Anyway into the end (Topolina) balcanic sounds emerge differently in an obscure way, maintaining your poetry in its integrity. Tell us about this EP. Why this new policy in your poetics?
“When pandemic crisis arrived in 2020 Matthieu had joined the band recently and had only done a few concerts with us, meanwhile we had a couple of unreleased tracks that we had already been playing for a while and we were starting to work in new material. And since the rest of that year was so inactive and the future looked so uncertain, we thought it was time for a new record and we booked a studio for the beginning of the following year, even if not all the tracks were totally ready for recording. So we gathered in a rehearsal room some days before going to the studio to finish the two new songs we had been working on, “The Rincón Pío Sound” and “Gazelle of Death”, and to practice the three other tracks, including “Poda” which we decided to record again, because it had only been released in that very limited edition single and because it had gone through some changes since then. This time for the recording we chose HAUS studios in Lisbon, not only because of the location and the very good conditions they have, but mostly because our friend Pedro Ferreira was working there and he had already expressed great interest in recording our band in the past. And so by the end of January 2021 we recorded the 5 tracks, which then took more than a year to be mixed and we invited G.W. Sok, the ex-singer of The Ex, who we had hosted with our ATR in 2019, to add his voice and lyrics to the track “Topolina”, which was named after the van that our friend Cinthia from the band Panelas Depressão lent us for the tour with PARPAR in 2018. And for the track “Gazelle of Death”, which was named after the van we used in our tour in Russia in 2019, we invited Denis Siggi Alekseev, the driver of this mythical van and promoter of that tour, to add his voice and lyrics to the song, which also includes the participation of Pedro on the synths. Apart from this collaboration, all the other synth-sounding parts are either coming from samples used by Boris or by effects used by Matthieu. And besides Sok’s and Denis’ voices, Matthieu also did some screaming and there are samples from other voices in some tracks, which was something that we had already done in previous records but not as often as on this one. And so aside from these changes and shifts, including the entrance of Matthieu in the band and the recording and mixing work of Pedro, we don’t think there’s really a new policy in our music, but maybe that darkness and heaviness come from the bleak times we were living when the record was made. And maybe Matthieu also brought those more obscure balkanic sounds that you refer to, since he played in some balkan music projects in the past.
“As usual, for the vinyl edition we gathered more labels to do the co-release with our ATR and once again with Enough Records, a portuguese netlabel with which we’ve been collaborating since many years and which has been responsible for the digital releases of most of our discography, like Milo Gomberoff, who did the mastering anew. And for the artwork we invited Ivan Heidel, a young russian artist/photographer that joined our tour in Russia as the final project for his university studies. Last but not least Rodrigo did a couple of videoclips for two of the tracks.”
At the end what will be your news about the next releases and concert? Have you been organizing a new European tour?
“The future is always uncertain and we do have this duality of hibernation or hyperactivity (maybe that’s why we took 3 months to answer this interview, sorry about that!). But our idea is to make a new record, to release it and to go on tour again (is there any other way to do things?). “卌” came out in September 2022 and we did a 4-week tour through Europe for the occasion, our first tour in 3 years due to the pandemic crisis. This year it’s been very relaxed in terms of rehearsing and playing live because most of us have been busy with other things, so we only did a few concerts and a couple of festivals in Portugal, we have a few ideas and proposals regarding where we’d like to tour next, but we’ll keep them secret for now to avoid jinxing anything. We’ll gather by the end of the year to keep working on new material, we’ll be developing some songs that we’ve already been playing live and we’ll try to get inspired to create other ones, I guess we’re also curious to find out what will happen!”