I had been reading of Vanessa Rossetto, an Italian-named composer from Austin, Texas (the family name translates as “lipstick”, for those who really die to know) for quite a while and was indeed curious. Lo and behold, she was so kind to send the latest outing on her own imprint Music Appreciation, on which Misafridal, Imperial Brick and Whoreson In The Wilderness were previously released. After listening to Dogs In English Porcelain for the fifth time in a few days, your reviewer can’t do anything but joining the chorus of complimentary comments seen around the web: Rossetto – who’s also a painter – is definitely capable of organizing a composition, placing all the elements exactly at the right place.
“Scored” for electronics, field recordings, viola, violin, cello and acoustic turntable, this is a single flux of mixed-up factors and successive vignettes, whose essential perfume is electro-acoustically domestic. The most appreciable quality of this work – which, let’s not forget it, tries to find its spot in a musical area where many dilettantes are active today, releasing and (damn it) selling stuff despite a total artistic poverty – is the perfect balance between raw and (partially) refined. Rossetto is very good in utilizing ingredients from everyday life – a whimpering dog, a radio, the noise from the outside traffic – and contextualizing them in a framework that might appear as pre-conceived for different uses. When she mixes the sound of the string instruments, either barely scraped in almost pitch-less fashion or bundling frail tones in slightly droning whispers that get instantly re-swallowed by the surrounding ambience, we’re willing to be there as a part of this, rather than just “observing the process”. The whole flows with ease, conceding openings to our fantasy and peeps into private operations that, in the end, the originator is completely eager to share with an audience. No mysterious auras and affected blessedness.
Still, nothing prepared yours truly to the stunning appearance – about six minutes to conclusion – of a breathtaking chorale of superimposed Vanessas (…or are they? Is this instead a loop from other records?) which separates the preceding concreteness from an immediate sense of loss amidst interior ghosts and hopeless desires, a Ligeti-ish chant underscored by low drones, chirping birds and assorted external ferments that alone is worth (pur)chasing the album. It’s a fabulous finale, the voices gradually wavering towards a frozen stupor, background echoes of melodies coming from who-knows-where, a definite shift from intriguing homespun tampering to a deeper level of self-analysis. This splendid ending – which, together with certain sections, made me compare this CD to specific junctures of early Jim O’Rourke – is what delineates the transition of Dogs In English Porcelain from “interesting experiment” to “great record”.