Anacleto Vitolo | Obsidian
Despite having lived about 50km away from each other for many years, I never had the chance to personally meet Anacleto Vitolo. Nevertheless the resonance of his diligent work, being the head MANY FEET UNDER of one of the most prolific and interesting electronic music labels in southern Italy, had of course arrived and was definitely one of the factors that contributed to turn the Campania region into one hotbeds for underground electroacoustic music in Italy.
After many interesting collaborative works in the past few years, Vitolo strikes back with a sturdy and wicked personal release. Everything in Obsidian, from the pitch black art cover to the list of materials and elements that compose the tracklist, scream for digital rationalism and concreteness.
Graphite, Carbon, Amethyst are only a few of the titles of the album which create images of solid structures, compact molecular arrangements, glistening pillars of noises that hide utterly complex internal behaviours. His complete refusal of notes, harmonic ratios, melodic patterns and whatever “common” music elements, where the only exception is represented by Membrane and Coil, respectively presenting some samples of orchestral drums and classical music bits, together with the kind of materials he uses seem to have distant roots into the most prominent examples of the Japanese noise tradition. Still, Anacleto is capable of taking this heritage and carve it out from the eastern isolationist tendency to rearrange it in a much more European, dynamic and critical manner.
Unusual is also his relationship to space: An utter virtual world that negates any link with reality, any illusion of actual spatial relationships. The pictures of mysterious pieces of outer space machinery, throbbing and steaming are not for us to be observed, but rather to be clad, in order to become part of the process, lines in the data stream.
Still, his approach is not as emotionless as it might sound, we are far away from the abandon of humankind of Ryoji Ikeda or from the numerical acrobatics of Alex Augier. Vitolo is a man that gets in a complex and problematic relationship with his own aesthetic trying to impose his human and muscular will over the unattainable speed of the machine, fighting with gritted teeth to dominate and tame the calculating beast.
Altogether the album is a vast collection of many possible points of view over the intersection between man and machine, where every piece a fulfill a precise functional purpose in the shaping of a conscious and satisfying dramaturgy that keeps the listener engaged from top to bottom.