Simon Balestrazzi - The Sky Is Full Of Kites [Boring Machines - 2012]Simon Balestrazzi has been part of Italy's healthy electronic music scene for over three decades. His earliest releases were as part of the industrial rock band T.A.C. in the eighties, before joining Kirlian Camera in the nineties. After studying sound engineering in New York, he returned to Italy in 1998, settling in Cagliari where his output has increased and diversified into installations and theatre performance while also founding several bands and producing many collaborative and solo projects with a more improvised, experimental edge.
And this latest one is no exception, recorded between 2010 and 2011, it is constructed entirely from processed home-made or prepared instruments. One hour in length and consisting of just three tracks, 'The Sky Is Full Of Kites' is a long, isolated listening session filled with unrecognisable noises and tones.
Its opener, 'Under Pressure' stretches across almost half an hour. In which time we're sent through a throbbing, industrial check-in zone of droning concrete tunnelling and metallic suspensions, as breathy, mechanic and synthetic textures orbit a subsequent freefall trajectory. Midway, we touchdown upon a strong organ chordway that extends, underpinning nonchalant nearby noises, woodwindy and wild. They have a real-world, hypnotic quality to evoke a ritualistic atmosphere before heading off into more psychedelic organ-ics and ultimately landing in a field of crisp, crystalline bowed tones.
These tones swiftly return after the sudden, stubborn tap-tap-tapping start to 'Persistence Of Memory', lacing the impatient percussion with delicate high-pitched swipes and casual plucked notes. A kind of abstract dance ensues as the swipes and plucks step unevenly along, occasionally joined by flitting analog synth tones, crackles, scrapes, a prepared piano and other unidentified objects. The crowded sound-space grows cacophonous and stuck in its non-groove, before thinning to an irritating synth shriek and more noisy, throbbing menace.
The title track is the final leg starting with a contrasting calm to the preceding track's psychotic coda. A lightly drifting set of synth tones sets up a swirling stereo sound pool, a dizzying effect whose monotony is overcome by elusive additional tones thickening the drone soup. Largely, this continues to churn for the rest of the track, with lavish helpings of distortion and space synth signals as seasoning.
It's an interesting, if meandering (and a little overlong), journey, but one made all the more comfortable by a subtle acknowledgement to melody lightly threaded through the otherwise dystopian sound collages. Together, Balestrazzi has formed an enjoyable, science fiction narrative of spacey drift, industrial anaemia and ceremonial intent.Russell Cuzner