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Simon Balestrazzi - Ultrasonic Bathing Apparatus [Sincope - 2015]

Italian imprint Sincope presents Ultrasonic Bathing Apparatus, the latest full-length CD by Simon Balestrazzi. Balestrazzi is a long-running sound artist and composer and leading figure in the italian post-industrial scene. During the 80’s and early 90’s, Balestrazzi was active in groups T.A.C. (Tomografia Assiale Computerizzata), Kino Glaz, and Kirlian Camera. His lengthy resume also includes collaborations with: Damo Suzuki, TH26, Uncodified, VipCancro, Z’EV, and Francesco Paladino to name a few. Along with his solo work, Balestrazzi is currently active with groups: Dream Weapon Ritual, Candor Chasma, Sarang and the improv ensemble A Sphere Of Simple Green. Yes, he seems like a busy guy.

Ultrasonic Bathing Apparatus offers 7 tracks that employs: analog synthesizers, field recordings, electroacoustic sounds, tabletop guitar (by Sara Aresu), voice (by Maurizio Saiu), digital processing, and a myriad of other instruments and processes to create a dense, immersive audio experience. The album’s concepts of sensory deprivation and numbness are sonically achieved through some dense, speaker-rumbling drones (which lay the foundation for the albums 4 “Immersion” tracks). “First Immersion” offers a focused drone of dense pulses, metal clanging, obscured voices, and other synthy oddities. Listening to this piece I couldn’t help but imagine a spaceship drifting through space, a control panel teaming with sound, the crew’s only contact with humanity are a series of random radio transmissions. The “Second Immersion” focuses on hollow echoes and bright drifting resonance that verges on piercing. Strangely, as the piece progresses it takes on an Asian vibe. The use of a dulcimer takes the track in a direction that almost sounds like the instrument plucking found on a kung fu film score. The “Third Immersion” takes cues from the first, adding some static crackle, muffled voices, and banging (that sounded like doors shutting). The “Final Immersion” sounds like a storm is brewing. It never quite achieves full on thunder and lighting, but rather occupies that slow buildup to the storm. Each of the “Immersions” offer, well ...quite an immersive listening experience. These 4 pieces should appeal to those who like their sounds slow and steady and heavily meditative.

The rest of the album is filled up with shorter pieces. I particularly enjoyed “Oscillation” and “Osmosis” which feature Sara Aresu on the tabletop guitar.

I’ve been a close follower of the Sincope imprint and I’d say they’ve got another winner with Ultrasonic Bathing Apparatus. Truthfully, despite the resume, I’ll admit my ignorance of Balestrazzi’s body of work. However, if this album is any indication, it might be time for me to do something about that.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Hal Harmon
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