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156's Adel Souto Uses Human Bones to Make Music

156's Adel Souto
156's Adel Souto
Courtesy photo

Miami-based artist and musician Adel Souto has been toiling away in different forms of artistic expression the last few decades while fine-tuning his industrial leanings through his band, 156.

"In 2012, I was managing a tattoo studio in Manhattan, and there were a lot of bones around, as decorative curios," Souto says. “I began to play with some as drumsticks, and while doing this, the idea came to me to do a recording using nothing but human bones. At first, I borrowed a lot of the 'instruments,' then after some time, I began to buy some of my own. That is one reason why this record took close to four years to be released.”

Born in Cuba and raised in Spain and South Florida, Souto was a pioneer of the '90s zine scene with Feast of Hate and Fear. It was always an extension of his artistic vision and personal narrative, and he translated it successfully to the digital realm at a time when large publishers and newspapers were lost in the newness of the online world. He has since added film- and TV-style segments and is currently configuring its next version.

Souto also maintains a dizzying array of photoblogs like Forgotten Rides, which focuses on abandoned bicycles; Doorway Galleries; and the abstract/found-object commentary of Ad Removal as Modern Art. In terms of music, he has been part of the bands Timescape Zero and Sound 4 Sound, and first sang for the area’s first straightedge band, Violent Deed, in the late '80s. He also drummed on the Goslings’ Grandeur of Hair LP and has been in too many outfits to name that gigged and never recorded or recorded but never released.

“When I moved to Brooklyn in 2009, I began to go out at night and check out a few areas that were normally off limits,” he explains of 156. “After knocking against enough pipes, as well as hearing the wonderful echoing sounds of tunnels and empty buildings, I decided to start recording it all. After seven years and nine releases, I find myself back in Miami and kind of not knowing where to take it.”

In Memento Mori, Souto explores the intersection of East and West in compositions created with human bones that sound like a Tibetan Kangling horn. These songs come in and out of consciousness with such ease and comfort that Souto achieves the perfect cadence for introspection and meditation.

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Compounding this, the ten-inch LP was pressed for 45 rpm at the suggestion of the pressing plant and in the happiest of accidents, Souto realized the compositions have different lives at different speeds. (The digital Bandcamp version has both speed renditions of the songs.) The physical release, in its calming lilac packaging, is filled with goodies that add to the mythos of the compositions. Pressed about topping this album, Souto just looks ahead.

“My next release is simple field recordings of New York City, but I have more upcoming tracks that I plan to put together soon, which are closer to grindcore, and others that are in the vein of shoegaze," he says. "Now, I just have to find the right place in Miami to record the sounds I'm looking for so as to finish that up.”

Souto is at the top of his game, and his creative spark is only collecting more energy. Whatever he produces next, be it visual or aural, will be in its own way spiritual and open to interpretation.

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