Massimo Toniutti | Il Museo Selvatico
Black Truffle (2xLP comes w/DL)
Italian experimental sound designer, Massimo Toniutti, released this little known haunting, underground gem twenty seven years ago and Black Truffle was kind enough to unearth this collection of seven interesting tracks in a lavish double vinyl set in a gatefold printed inner sleeve. Il Museo Selvatico which translates to ‘the wild museum’ is likely referencing Mother Nature herself. Toniutti began recording via cassette only in 1984 and have released seven full length records up until 2016.
“Existing in a private world apart from the noise and dark industrial tropes of many of his contemporaries, Toniutti’s Il Museo Selvatico is an entirely singular work of domestic electro-acoustic exploration. Made up primarily of what Toniutti calls “small and rare noises” or sonic “knick-knacks” recorded between 1987 and 1990, the five pieces that make up the original LP usher us into a crepuscular space populated by mysterious traces of everyday life. Toniutti weaves a loose net of distant clanks, dull thuds, metallic resonance, and skittering percussive sounds, allowing the sounds to breathe against a backdrop of near-silent atmosphere. Although the haunted ambience recalls the work of contemporaries like Organum, Toniutti generally steers clear of long tones and drones, preferring to arrange brief, sometimes staccato sonic objects into patterns of repeating figures and isolated events whose overall compositional shape remains somehow ungraspable. Although glimpses of recognizable location recordings and instrumental sounds can occasionally be made out, for most of the record the sources of the sounds you hear remain teasingly mysterious, an abstracted memory of everyday actions and atmospheres.”
This feels like it fell out of the sky and into my hands as its the exact scope that soothes my savage beast, and it will your ears as well. Opening with the playful Canti a forbice where percussive toys are on display, in action. This pre-dated an artist like Seth Nehil and was coming up around the same time as Dan Burke’s always perfectly peculiar Illusion of Safety. It’s in that unidentifiable class. He deploys ticking, raspy sounds like rustling through reeds, lots of clanging, and more to great effect. It does not sound as though there are any electronics involved in this racket whatsoever, it’s pretty bare and inventive. In total the whole recording runs about 90 minutes!
zoomemorie opens with a whistling low drone, sinewy organ and chimes. It seems that within the mix he’s also embedded some random animalia. The setting is jungle like, as in deep, dark covered spaces. There are quiet thuds and mysterious tiny roars, fleeting muffled noises and lots of suspense. The dramatic language here spills over into vecchi villaggi with its jiggering, and quietude. These likely came from field recordings, made and/or borrowed, but it’s difficult to place yourself on a map, which is the crux, instead you are lost in a forested maze, trying to find a fork in the road.
The clanging of Lento & Antico is quite centering, as bells and gongs often have this power to do. There exists this low rumble which reminds me of an anchored watercraft, the sound it’s old ties make as a wake swells upon still waters. Toniutti continues to blend bird calls with a deep stringed strum and a simple clash with a cymbal which leads to the tiny rainlike dappled percussion of the intermediate “ad ogni modo..” which comes and goes in less than a minute. Then comes one of the two final lengthy compositions that end this adventure, starting with Intonated Magnifying Mirrors (materiali matematici). It comes in layers, one underwater, one just on the surface, manipulating metallic objects like small chains and bowls. With reverb and drone playing in the background a lot of aural cinema is being projected over and above the excavated silences. This is (was) dark ambient before any subgenre was ever considered.
This is a world where the performer regards every single noise as an entity that intersects with another, very intense approach. Some will find this philosophical and soothing, others will regard it as supernatural – but I encourage, without splitting hairs, the consideration of both. The last piece here runs for twenty-three minutes, and already it is so engaging that you’d hardly think this concept needed more, but along comes corde, soprammobili e metalli cartaginesi (as seen from my backyard). It’s softened edges and musique concrète goings-on create a chasm of variables in ambience. He makes you feel as though you have stepped into a time warp, and that the space underneath you has vanished. As you float the most subdued percussion and drone guide your internal journey. This has an illusory industrial edge to it with its trickles and low-emission quieted motors, it’s metal on metal gravely boom and shifting tonalities. For sure one of the sleeper reissues of 2018.