ANDREA BELFI – Wege

Room40

Andrea Belfi: drums, percussion, electronica, voice, harmonica; Valerio Tricoli: electronics; Stefano Roveda: violin; Auriel Martin Reich, Echo Ho, Johanna Lettmayer, Jong Won Choi, Josef Novotny, Martin Zrost, Manuel Giannini: voices; Greg Haines: cello; Stefano Pilia: double bass; Attila Faravelli: electronics; Andrea Faccioli: slide and acoustic guitars; Stefano Tedesco: vibraphone; Machinefabriek: guitar.

Wege, released in 2012 and already celebrated in many a place, deserves all the clapping received to date; it is also a admonition for the application of perseverance to yours truly (who, on a first try, had not immediately comprehended its worth). Born from an extended assemblage of significant chunks accumulated over the course of two residencies, these four tracks resplend with earnest clarity. The same undeviating effectiveness typical of those who go straight to the point with a few crucial words without inundating their interlocutors with abstruse concepts hiding a fundamental lack of substance.

Admitting that I gradually fell in love with a release is a rarity on my behalf, but that’s precisely what happened in this case. Belfi is well acquainted with the core of biogenic pulse, his percussive principles enhancing our somatic perception throughout. The contraptions and expansions emerging from his drums-cum-synthesizer system are best savored with good-quality speakers, the room contributing an awful lot to the muscular tissue of the lower frequencies, absolutely cardinal in this work. The layering of metallic and granular is nearly flawless, the juxtaposition of different velocities excellent, the resonance of the skins gorgeous. One moment we’re in for tranceful synchronizations echoing Laswell and (Ginger) Baker circa Horses And Trees; elsewhere, respectable tendencies to a somewhat brumous concoction of electronica and musique concrete materialize. The beginning of “A” is a mildly radical unresolved overture before the rhythmic machine starts its engines. The exhausted adjective “cinematic” perfectly describes the unfolding of “B”, whose second half is imbued with sweet acoustic sadness. The professed Steve Reich determiner was spotted by this writer only in the final and totally seductive “D”, the way in which motionless chords ebb and flow amidst the various textures vaguely recalling the voices in Music For 18 Musicians. However, a more explicative “immaterial connection” detected here is that with Jon Mueller: not just because the latter and Belfi are both drummers, but especially given the distinct discernment of a congeneric motivation to give.

And, for sure, this music does give. One of the foremost Italian outings in the last decade; those who know me (and my firmly rooted mistrust for the large part of what comes out of this gloomy area) will realize that this means much. Get a copy, play all day long.

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