kNN | queste cose non avvennero mai ma sono sempre / rlecchinesque
Canti Magnetici (2xCS)
Kaspar NonNewton – kNN is the moniker of Renato Grieco. Born in Napoli (Italy), a city with a great, slowly unfolding scene for experimental music, he has been the protagonist of a consistent outburst of releases between 2018-2019 that led to his first solo album Alta Moda Animale.
The two cassette tapes I’ll write about today are an exquisite deviation from the intense gestural and radically complex works he presented in his first album. In queste cose non avvennero mai ma sono sempre, Renato unveils a conscious and sensible fetish towards the old analog tools and technologies, demonstrating an ability to exploit media in a very elegant fashion, introducing lyricism and pathetic nuances to his loops and the way they intertwine in mesmerising chants. This first tape, which floats somewhere between an under-conceptualised version of Basinski’s Disintegration Loops and the Scandinavian melodic-drone exercises performed in earlier posh isolation releases by Croatian Amor and Vanessa Amara, acquires a distinct identity due to its ineffability. Here the melodies blur into a grainy and muddled soundscape of vaporised clouds, mischievous quicksand, mirror images, humid swamps and bogs where time plays with perception and the unexpected hits just when you feel most comfortable taking the next step.
rlecchinesque is a much more classic work, inscribed in the French tradition of tape music. In this case the composition unfolds horizontally, developing a narrative plot due to the massive use of recordings. Grieco’s intervention in this case is mostly linked to the choice in terms of quality of the recording themselves. Snippets of high quality materials alternate with lo-fi, noisy textures where human monstrosities and instrumental bugbears appear in the gloom. As referenced in the title, the connection to carnival exaggerations and grotesque masks reveals the duality of our world in which normality is not always the safest place to be. During this voyage in our subconscious we encounter and recognise some elements, mostly known noises, that reassure us that our detachment is not complete, that we are still inhabiting our bodies and our “reality”.
Very valuable is the stereophonic work that reminds me of an old axiom by Michel Chion, for whom stereo doesn’t mean just “two”, but rather the sum of the possible variables achievable with two speakers. Being equivalent in terms of elegance to the aforementioned album Alta Moda Animale, this two-tape release shows a darker, less academic side of the composer, awash with hidden desires and undisclosed secrets.