There have been plenty of bands whose members shared first names: Megadeth (Dave), the Rolling Stones (Mick), Opeth (Martin), etc. When seven-string guitarist Álvaro Domene and alto saxophonist Álvaro Pérez met in Madrid, Spain in 2011, not only was the “same level of passion and hunger for real, creative, and exploratory high-level collaborative music” immediately evident, says Domene, “having the same name, rather than being confusing, to us was kind of a strange cosmic coincidence because it’s not that common of a name.”
Since those first encounters, the two Álvaros have continued a fruitful collaboration, even across the Atlantic, with Domene based in upstate New York for several years. Early work came as part of a trio with a drummer, but since 2020 has been distilled down to a duo, itself with three distinct approaches. As Domene explains,
Zodos is our take on contemporary chamber music and avant-garde jazz, pieces go from three to fifteen minutes. ADAPAR is our metal project, so the pieces are concise as the intention tends to be in your face explosive hyper-speed. Lastly, Radical Accretion is our orchestral, electronic, "film score" inspired project and those compositions tend to be longer.
All three have recent debuts on Domene’s Iluso Records with follow-ups planned for this year.
ADAPAR is the most recent, thirty-five minutes of unfettered brutality, with titles like “Disturbing The Peace Or Interrupting The War?” or “Leave No Trace.” Domene is heard on seven-string guitar, drum programming, and electronic manipulation. He prefers the guitar because, “it’s all about extending the standard range of the instrument and the harmonic coherence of it. The extra string adds greater depth and general resonance. It opens up many sonic possibilities, melodic, harmonic, and textural,” while the drum machine has both practical and aesthetic considerations. As Domene says,
We are not trying to mimic a human drummer but to extend what’s possible in this context, combining certain core elements of a metal drum set with extra percussive elements that I have sampled and manipulated. Also, the music of ADAPAR would require practice time that most drummers can’t simply commit to, so I decided to do it myself, programming the drum computer, feeding it lots of language, and manipulating that language live during the recording process. So, while every note of every composition has been programmed, the way the parts are performed, the orchestration, form, and other factors happen live when everything is manipulated manually. I’m constructing and deconstructing the pieces live, improvising using the language that I feed into the machine, as a drummer-improviser would do in a jazz setting.
Pérez’s saxophone is also subject to transmogrification, making what is already a caustic stream even more acidic, bubbling over drums and guitar shredding with the fully bloody import of that term. As he describes it,
The effects and processing are added by Domene on the mixing stage. The way I approach it is to perform my parts as if the effects were already there. I can hear them in my head, or at least an approximate version of them because I trust Álvaro and his ability to intuitively extend and manipulate the materials I give him in a complementary and unexpected way.
The results sound like the dying screams of some ancient terror after a meteor has hit and ignited all flesh and fur, as on “Stones and Fire,” with “Game of Subversion” a factory its workers don’t realize has actually been designed as their abattoir, and in “A Dream Or A Crime Against Reality?”, the feeling after drinking coffee, herbal tea, beer, vodka, champagne, Maalox, and bleach right before bed. Trying to put this music through a form of chromatography is nearly impossible, even when the two describe their influences, ranging from Evan Parker to Kenny Garrett to Lee Konitz for Pérez and Allan Holdsworth to Derek Bailey to Paco de Lucía for Domene.
Music this unique, even if it has some precedent, can either require contextual guardrails, though ones just loose enough to let cars fly off the road—Domene offers death metal, electronic, and free jazz as ballpark key words but says, “the way we put those elements or genres together is a completely organic process that actively goes against a pastiche approach of fusing different lexicons”—or simply ears that have good health insurance. As Pérez suggests, “What we propose is a journey that everyone, depending on their emotional and musical taste and background, might enjoy in a different way. It is music that can also evoke a multitude of mental images that will take each listener to different worlds and even altered states of consciousness.”