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Lucio Capece - Awareness About [Another Timbre - 2016]

Lucio Capece is an Argentine improviser and electro-acoustic musician who has collaborated with the likes of Mika Vainio, Rhodri Davis and Kevin Drumm. This record collects four experimental pieces exploring perceptions of space and sound by deploying feedback mechanism and a variety of imaginative speaker systems.

If you're familiar with Alvin Lucier's classic I am Sitting in a Room then you will know what to expect as all the pieces here make use in one way or another of Lucier's technique for expanding the specific resonance frequencies of the performance space through repeated playback and re-recordings. Capece however doesn't use his voice as the material but tends to use minimal instrumental input, such as from a slide saxophone or analogue synthesisers, or simply recordings from the performance space.

On the two shorter pieces Gravity Resonance and Room Melody these techniques produce a variety of striking textures. In particular on Gravity Resonance a simple melody played on the saxophone is looped and repeatedly fed back into the space producing a strange tension of rising and falling drones which are given a sense of depth and movement by Capece' moving his microphones around the space by means of a balloon. The sound is ghostly and a little unnerving. Like a lot of these feedback resonance experiments they almost seem to be evoking a hidden elemental force within the conjunction of space and sound that takes on a life of its own.

The longest of the four pieces presented is Groupings which is performed by the Berlin ensemble Konzert Minimal. The exact method for this piece is strikingly complex, involving an improvisation around the barely present sound of an accordion opening and closing without playing a note. This barely perceptible white noise is the tonal core around which the other players, on viola, double bass and bass clarinet improvise. Capece has composed the piece such that the players contributions "create ambiguous perceptions about the presence or absence of sounds depending on what occurs before, during or after these sounds". It's a strange experience comparable to listening to some of Feldman's most minimal and abstract pieces. The ethereal 'out-of-almost-nothing' feel of the composition is perhaps its signal triumph. At the end of its near half-hour duration you're left wondering whether you have just listened to a piece of music or some kind of séance.

The final piece is Space Tuning - Eiffel's Halles Des Expositions and is part of a series of site specific works going under the general title of Space Tuning - Conditional Music which Capece has performed across Europe. These are particularly impressive realisations of the techniques used on all the previous pieces. Of special note here is the use of speakers suspended by balloons which while playing back electronically produced white noise are moved around the performance space. Indeed aside from very minimal additions from Capece on his saxophone the whole of the multi-layered composition is produced from resonance recordings from the room or sine tones selected as to accord with the amplified room recordings. Comparisons could be drawn with recent work by Robert Curgenven or some of the more performance orientated composers on Richard Chartier's LINE label. However there is a singularly alchemical quality to these pieces that allow them stand out in a field crowded with works of space orientated minimal electro-acoustic music.

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

Duncan Simpson
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