This is my introduction to the work of duo Attilio Novellino & Collin McKelvey. Métaphysiques Cannibales (Kohlhaas; Vinyl/DL) was just released in limited edition this month, originally recorded between 2013-16 in San Francisco and Catanzaro, both cities by the sea. The striking photo collage artwork by Matteo Castro is stylish and evocative, but of what we will have to listen deeply, but alludes to an upended relationship with reality. Broken by it’s sides, this starts with Métaphysiques Cannibale I. With horns blaring, tribal drumming and quirky electronics there is reason for some concern. It gives off the feel of being on the sidelines of a parade where the engines are making way for colorful performers. The lopsided tones managed to juggle feedback, rewind and plenty of vexing sound effects. The cacophony is circulated and brought down low, into the hum of rattle and pulsating drone.
Fidgety sounds, flutters and what could be a bulldozer moving boulders, are countered by typewriters, tiny buzzing, and a left to right channel (and back again) rat-a-tat. The ending becomes an amalgamation of these things, adding a swooping synth that becomes an illusory backdrop. On Métaphysiques Cannibale II the mood shifts towards mystery, rather than outright action/performance. The drifting ambient piece loiters about, with drone and circumstance, of unknown consequence. The mystery deepens as walls may be torn down, though the samples infer actions (in memory) could they be referring to breaking out from internal walls?
Radio voices enter, tuning into a space where the tapping away continues, though the banging becomes different percussive forms. The more layers added, the further ambiguous the sense of space becomes. A grinding guitar (?), a warped modulation of synthesizers and a growing atonal setting makes this a musique concrète fest in its ever-shifting of gears. It just churns away. And please, stay for the especially surprise ending. This is literally a ‘heavy’ record in all aspects, designed for those among us with discerning, serious ears.