Black Manual is a collaboration between Jan St. Werner (Mouse On Mars, Lithops, Microstoria) and percussionists Valdir Jovenal, Juninho Quebradeira, and Leo Leandro. While keeping a distance from the cultural aspects of the music, the project explores sounds as pure grammatical elements to explode textural, structural, and temporal possibilities.
The project grew from a desire to create a ‘wraparound music’ and to confront different types of musical structures by bringing ritualistic Afro-Brazilian rhythms and abstract electronica into an artificial dialogue. The result is a musical marathon somewhere between performance and ritual, a roiling sound and rhythm collage with uncanny spatial dimensions. The a fala dos atabaques (speech of the drums) challenges and collides with digital dynamics creating violence and passion. Special toques, drumbeat sequences also found in samba and candomblé, rear up only to dissolve back into tones in the ever-shifting ‘total music’. Black Manual formed in 2012 after Jan St. Werner heard the percussionists Valdir Jovenal, Juninho Quebradeira and Leo Leandro play at a candomblé ceremony in Kreuzberg.
Candomblé is an Afro-Brazillian religion where fate is revered, there is no concept of good or bad, and where music and dance enable worshippers to become possessed by gods. Candomblé music, an essential part of the ritual, is derived from African music and has had a strong influence in other popular (non-religious) Brazilian music styles. Its language neither written down nor entirely improvised, it is music that dissolves the boundaries between creator and listener, individual, and environment.
Werner brought the Brazilian candomblé rhythms, abstract electronics, and select spoken words from Brazilian actor João Eduardo Albertini together into a live performance project and a recently-released album, Mordendo (Brigade Commerz, 2013). Mordendo was mixed by St. Werner and his Mouse on Mars partner Andi Toma, and released by Thomas Knoefel on his Brigade Commerz imprint.