Mai Mai Mai ~ Δέλτα (Delta)

Mai Mai MaiMy, my, my.  This is the obvious response, but it’s the right one.  Δέλτα (Delta) is packed with original sounds, presented in an original way.  It’s a huge step forward for Rome’s Toni Cutrone, who made an impression late last year with Theta (we sense a theme), but benefits from the presence of friends on the new album.

Theta was released on Boring Machines, but is anything but boring.  This initial exploration into electronic soundscaping remains a compelling listen, its synths battling sound effects for dominance.  (Listen here.)  The tendrils of the new work can be intuited in these grooves: the cryptic choral samples of “Prometheus” find fulfillment in the softer singing of “Βυζάντιον (Byzantium)”, while the abrasion of the title track is pushed further in “Φυγή (Hegira)”.  By concentrating less on beats and dialogue than texture and drone, Cutrone demonstrates that he’s able to evolve as an artist – and quickly.  The result is a powerful album that pushes the envelope in all the right ways.

The use of thunder in the opening track is reminiscent of Ben Frost’s use of wolves on By the Throat.  A sense of menace is created that won’t go away, no matter how deep one goes into the album.  It’s in the surging synths, the omnipresent bass, the organ.  Even the clarinet behaves like a scoundrel, refusing to comfort.  When the monks appear, their singing is overwhelmed by fuzz and percussion: order and chaos at war.  One wonders if actual monks would keep singing over this chaos; one suspects that they would not.  The artist’s hood seems almost a perversion of the monk’s habit.  And yet there is beauty in these grooves, as if the artist is saying, “religion can be perverse, but is not without allure”.

Each album attempts to chronicle “hidden memories” and the journeys of a tumultuous childhood.  If Theta is the raw response, then Delta marks the beginning of sense: the puzzle pieces arranged in a rough pattern.  The closing track is a growing howl, a statement of anger and determination: I will not be defined by this.  I will define.  After only 28 minutes, the listener is left wanting more.  All hints point to a Mediterranean trilogy, and we would not be surprised to see this sonic journey continue before the end of the year.  The tolling bell of “Φυγή (Hegira)” is not an elegy for a prior life: it’s a call to arms for a new one.  (Richard Allen)

Available here

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