Another Timbre

Osvaldo Coluccino: acoustic objects

In Step Across The Border – Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzel’s documentary about Fred Frith – there is a memorable scene during which the protagonist visits a hardware shop to purchase materials to be used for guitar preparations in the subsequent performances. With a bit of imagination you can hypothesize Osvaldo Coluccino involved in similar practices prior to taping the four tracks comprised by Oltreorme. However, besides what might be (partly) recognized as assorted metals rubbed, hit and grazed, a closer listen – not advised by the composer, who indicates a medium-to-low volume playback to respect the music’s deeper implications – reveals, among disparate origins, strings and resonant woods stroked or softly knocked/bumped (perhaps parts of an acoustic guitar, or a piano) and some breathing/gargling emissions utilizing ill-defined physical objects. There are also moments where illegible voices from the outside world are captured by the recording, giving us a hint of disguised loneliness right in the middle of a point where normal activities are taking place.

This apparently obscure artistic statement has nothing to do with what produces a sound, then; more with how we resound when situated inside the range of those reciprocal transmissions. Coluccino seems interested in the creation of a method for the loss of self-perception within a quiescent milieu of soft noises and brushed silences, as if willing to reaffirm the rigor of isolation as the basis for the development of our innermost capabilities in opposition to ego. In that sense, the CD obeys to the classic caveat: “absolute calmness needed”. There come the habitual, and by now almost banal questions: can people who live in buzzing neighborhoods and vociferous houses properly approach something like this? How can headphones be discarded if the children at the second floor are jumping from tables and dropping chairs while playing?

Each listener will respond according to their concrete possibility and – especially – state of mind. The performer himself confesses that before 6 AM and after 10 PM are his favorite temporal spots to reappraise the work. This reviewer – who tried diverse backgrounds – found that the best solution resides in letting the 53-plus minutes mix at adequate magnitude with the concoction of spring birds, remote transits and near-scary suspensions that define a typical open-window rural morning. My hunch is that metropolitan clangor won’t help a iota, in spite of the good will.

In the end, Coluccino shows the weight of his conception – already surfacing in the previous Atto on this same label – through a clear, if wordless explanation that defies critical categorization. We ourselves are the sounds that we hear in a complex give-and-take mechanism of acceptance and/or denial; the reaction to this simple fact will determine our social (or less) attitude. Therefore it is not a given that the horrific “sharing” commonplace – much in vogue in the online cosmos of fake friendships and stolen personal data – represents a positive in this case. In a word, genuine deep listening is not possible if solitude is diluted.

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