ROBERT CURGENVEN – Oltre

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Perfectly in line (pun intended) with Richard Chartier’s label’s archetypical presentations, Australian Curgenven’s work belongs in the category of sound installation. Fortunately, it features the genre’s positive aspects more than the minimum (or overload) of self-satisfying commonplace that invariably characterizes a congested quarter where stressed lawyers and frustrated bank clerks can invent a new career nowadays. Oltre (“beyond” in Italian) develops the notion of “Transparence” dubplate which – if I understood correctly – utilizes a record transmitting different kinds of “deep undertones and blossoming overtones” along a duration during which the object is subjected to a process of slow degradation which hinders the higher frequencies little by little. The concept’s essentials were built up at Milan’s O’ art gallery, hence the use of the Italian language in all the titles.

Speaking of this disc’s worth in terms of aural gratification, its content unfolds gradually and often impressively. It starts with just a modicum of subtly shifting resonant layers wrapped by the classic noises deriving from a wearing-out vinyl, occasionally enhanced by various whirrs (ventilators and fans are part of the equation), guitar feedback and field recordings. The calmness of this plateau doesn’t last forever, the intensity of the sonic tissue growing to a point in which the acoustic mass becomes threatening. This is particularly valid for a gorgeous track called “Largo Capriccioso” which comprises some powerful drone music, a truly magnificent piece that results effective even raising the volume level of several tads and that – in certain components – is not excessively distant from the recently departed Roland Kayn’s sonorities. The final segment “Nero Lento: Coda Lunga” restores the original sense of peace through the initial appearance of remote echoes from a turbulently rainy day; then, a vanishing meditation revolving around the fundamental parallelism of subsonic humming and acute pitches is accompanied by birds and insects and, again, by the tarnished vinyl’s cyclical scraping ultimately closing the circle.

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