Andrea Marutti & Fausto Balbo - Detrimental Dialogue [Afe Records / Boring Machines / Fratto 9 under the - 2010]
‘Detrimental Dialogue’ is the first collaboration between Northern Italy’s Andrea Marutti and Fausto Balbo, who exploit a wide range of sound synthesis techniques as they worked together both in tandem and isolation across a period of three years. This has resulted in an album that merges the cosmic hedonism of Tangerine Dream’s analogue experiments with the even more abstract glitch of digital synths, to form an array of auditory science fiction motifs and modulations pitched light years away from any pre-sets.
These sounds the duo create and deploy are found across the whole album, making it seem more like a single work of four movements than a collection of separate ideas. Indeed, one can easily imagine it started life through free improvised sessions whose raw outputs have since been honed, filtered and edited into four separate pieces. The first, ‘Winter’, starts with scratchy, jittering bursts of distorted signals that remain random apart from the odd diphthongal utterance. These continue to fidget frenetically as warm analogue tones smoothly hover into view accompanied by the sort of bleeps and whirrs associated with futuristic machinery. Over time, the slow pulsations combine with other crystalline tones to form a kaleidoscopic synth work-out before dropping any perceived harmonic pretensions and entering a sparse, malfunctioning space station full of stuttering exchanges, engine pulses and sawmill slices. Similarly, the minimal melodic themes that float around the early stages of the next two tracks (‘Indulge Me’ and ‘Set-Back’) are also largely ditched by their mid-point giving way to more electro-acoustic-styled passages whose rhythms are more often in a state of flux than fixity.
By the final track, the scribbling glitches can feel like they’re vandalizing an otherwise serene set of concentric triggers, camouflaging the gentle Kosmische sensibilities. But without them we would lose the darkly destructive drama they inject and the rhythmic potential they lend, particularly when organised by dubby delay, albeit briefly. In this way, ‘Detrimental Dialogue’ provides a curious journey of contrasts through user-defined sounds that manage to echo Krautrock’s more spacey excursions against a chaos theory of digitalia.Roger Batty