a closer listen

Giulio Aldinucci ~ Archipelago

For many years, Giulio Aldinucci was known as the electronic artist Obsil.  Last year, he stepped out under his own name with the internationally flavored Tarsia.  As much as that release traveled from electro-acoustic to classical textures, Archipelago wanders from field recording to drone.  Aldinucci’s diversity is also his strength; by mixing different techniques and flavors, the artist creates an ongoing sense of intrigue.  One never knows exactly what is coming next; one only knows that it will be elaborate and well-presented.

From the first seconds of “Aria”, one hears the sounds of conversation and traffic.  As the pipe organ enters, one realizes that this is not a live recording, but one that uses live sounds as adornment.  While the piece isn’t what one might expect to hear in a church service – a series of extended, modulated tones – it creates a meditative feeling that many would consider holy.  “Satellite” is a short study of “ring modded chimes”, set against a series of ambient sheets.  This piece extends the spiritual nature of the opener, drawing listeners closer to the specific.  The recording enters a different field – literally – with the crisp wooded footsteps of “Short Circuit”.  At this point, the meditation becomes a practice; what was once abstract has become concrete.  The contrast between the clicks and tones brings to mind the tension between intention and action, a tension resolved by the end as the two learn to live in tandem.  Soft bells ring as water flows and traffic returns, representing full engagement with the world.

The final piece, the 14-minute “R’n’R Through Broken Headphones”, is longer than the other three pieces combined.  While it begins like the first piece, this time we are provided with an explanation: the field recordings were taken from Aldinucci’s studio window and combined with synthesizer textures to form a blend of the natural and composed.  Once again, this selection demonstrates the manner in which internal and external factors can interact, fail to interact, seem to interact or be viewed as either disjointed or harmonious depending on the listener.  Those who wish to discard any such suggestions may simply receive it as a harmonic, slow-growing drone which increases in volume as it develops.  The final seven minutes suggest that Aldinucci may be expanding into yet another field: that of sonic abrasion.  Wherever he heads next, we’ll be sure to follow.  (Richard Allen)

Release date:  23 April

Available here