Osvaldo Coluccino - Absum [Inexhaustible Editions - 2021]
This is a very smart package from Inexhaustible Editions, with six tracks accompanied by liner notes from Osvaldo Coluccino. These notes threw me; I’ve heard some of Coluccino’s work before, on the excellent Another Timbre label, and it was very ‘soundy’ - as in, focussed on timbre and texture; here, though, absum’s notes analyse and introduce the piece in very musical terms, discussing notes and chords. The release is in fact an electroacoustic piece composed, performed, and recorded by Coluccino in 1999.
So, rather than the micro-sound approach I had previously heard, Absum often deals with larger swathes of sound, drones and events. The pieces are born of manipulated ‘electronics, violin, [and] objects’ which are heavily processed to produce electronic tones and details - nothing someone versed in electroacoustics won’t have heard before, but still very engaging.
The album begins with ‘absum I’, a short track of creeping, bass heavy drones that move around the stereo field, shifting and breathing. ‘Absum II’ is more active but maintains a dark sense of dread, with detailed fragments of sound dancing over a bed of airy drones. The third piece - yes, its titled ‘absum III’ - pushes these drones further, into a distinct ghostliness, complete with disembodied voices. ‘Absum IV’ presents more movement and more energy, with a material quality that reminds me of some Parmegiani; whilst the eerie drones remain, they are backgrounded, and punctuated by kinetic jolts of sound and moments of silence. The fifth piece doesn’t evoke the same sense of tectonic upheaval that ‘absum IV’ does, but it’s still a more dynamic work compared to the opening of the album. Subtitled ‘(for two violins and magnetic tape)’, the violins are indeed prominent and recognisable elements, with Coluccino processing them into long spectral drones and modulating sounds. The final track, ‘absum VI’, is at points the most condensed, or cluttered, piece on the album, with rattling objects colliding before transforming into stop/start arrangements of warped processing and electronics. It’s an effective close to absum, summarising much of what has come before.
This is a good, solid album - though I say that as someone who isn’t remotely an expert on electroacoustic music. Sections of the release, with its dark and ghostly drones, would please dark ambient fans; at other points, ‘absum VI’ for example, Coluccino presents more hardboiled work, but due to the engaging nature of the sounds the album can be easily enjoyed without knowledge of musical theory etc - this knowledge probably unlocks further dimensions of Absum but these ears aren’t that tutored. The whole album has a pleasing atmosphere that, whilst not overly dark or aggressive, is certainly not ‘light’ to my mind, and I think a lot of people into noise will find much to savour here.Martin P