FABIO SELVAFIORITA / VALERIO TRICOLI – Death By Water

Die Schachtel

On Venice’s Giudecca Island in 2009, Selvafiorita and Tricoli captured echoes and signals from the location, with a preponderance of liquid matters as per the record’s title, a clear mention of T.S. Eliot. Pertinently inserted in a system of live tape processing and subsequently manipulated in a Milan studio, those source materials became one of the finest acousmatic compositions heard from Italian artists of late. I have spent a few days with Death By Water, each listen introducing supplementary motivations to expand my respect for the work. First and foremost the sense of unpretentious reticence transpiring throughout, any penchant to the pronouncement of an ego entirely out of the question. The composers let the sounds speak for themselves without individual interferences, aware of the sheer value of the crucial elements. Among the latter, the human voice – mostly decomposed and used in “veiled” or otherwise altered fashion – is perhaps the constituent that attributes the real magic to the piece; this is especially true in the memorable finale, four minutes or so of hauntingly wavering pitches recalling a small cluster of ghosts grieving from the bottom of the sea. Oddly enough, what could hypothetically be imagined as a sonic representation of drowning – or other kinds of asphyxiating procedures involving fluids – ends instead in appearing as an elevation towards superior levels of being. A ritual featuring unexpected turns in the exploitation of the various ranges of frequency alternated with the permanent doubts generated by our reflections about mortality. This serious album stands proud amidst the best of the same area, meaning Empreintes DIGITALes and the likes. Restraint, discernment and emotions in equivalent doses, a rare occurrence in this miserable country.

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