These sounds made from only acoustic guitar and cassette players coming from Italian installation artist and minimalist Emiliano Romanelli can only be described, in a word, exquisite. Here he has lain out a series of nine untitled ‘patterns’ each with their own stature and character. They range from slightly abridged to quirky to staring-into-the-headlights drone that came from a foreign place.
His is a sound that takes great pause in observance of how acoustics travel, ascend and fill space. Untitled (9 Patterns) may seem fleeting or laidback at times, as it should, but there are undertones of organic phenomena by way of its mechanics, like the croaking of toads in a swampy area, the lightest hint of a waterfall in the distance, or the high-pitch of bees or hummingbirds – but this is a mirage, achingly pieced together from tones and frequencies mimicking the natural world.
Mind you Romanelli tends to keep his recipe and sources tightly embedded into this otherwise absonant sphere, an environment of tingling reverb and hushed quietude. Recorded live in his home country at the Palazzo Castagna, Città Sant’Angelo, the listener will be riveted to the tiniest of drip effects and warble. This is of the ilk of fellow microsound practitioners Richard Chartier, or projects that stemmed from Cycling ’74 as well as works by Ralph Steinbrüchel – only here there seems to be more attention spent on the frailty (rather than power) of static, hiss, and ambient noise in the processing of its final form.
I’m particularly attracted to track six, Untitled – 4′00″, with its sources emulating a foggy day along the coast, gentle waves and an isolated foghorn. The tones are multi-gray, the atmosphere is chilly and secluded. Gorgeous. In other corners of this recording are ruptured, abstract half chords that become overlapped in the midst of tapeloop play, all done at a snail’s pace with dramatic intensity. In varied succession this sinks and surges within a moderated scope of screened gradations, always keeping sensitive to the most minute of surface degradation and cloistered tonalities.