Vanessa Rossetto: field recordings, all instruments, voice, composition

The intrinsic narrative of sonic corporeality – a concept imprinted in this writer’s mind 21 years ago by Jim O’Rourke as he was referring to Luc Ferrari – lies at the basis of Vanessa Rossetto’s research (not a surprise, being the French composer an admitted influence). In Whole Stories, the sum of several inexplicit chronicles was successfully turned into absorbing sequences of reality snapshots. The album’s skeleton consists of recordings made in New Orleans, Mardi Gras week, 2013. They apparently brought back memories described as “bittersweet” by Rossetto, who had been absent from her birthplace for a long time. The core of the matter resides in snippets of conversation with her mother, who openly ponders about life’s unfortunate occurrences.

In truth, an effort founded on such issues cannot be correctly interpreted if listeners are not at least partly aware of the circumstances surrounding its birth. Had we based our judgment solely on the aural traces, what impresses is Rossetto’s conversion of unconcerned voices, city echoes and “harmonic” noises into frames of mesmeric stasis and, get this, gloriously tonal stretches. In particular, the second side is typified by accumulations of inexpensive electronic melodies (courtesy of the local casinos and fairs) and camouflaged female choirs (stratified Vanessas, presumptively). Trained ears welcome the engrossing totality quite effortlessly; to inject a little venom, the latter is the probable origin of an ongoing collective celebration of this freshly baked LP as the best (…already?) in Rossetto’s discography to date. An opinion that I’m not sharing for the moment, in spite of the undeniable quality.

By adding the “personal affinity” factor, things are seen from a different perspective. We perceive the familiar sense of extraneousness amidst the bedlam of a crowd, understand the protagonist’s silent sorrow in hearing mama’s sad reflections on the outcome of individual relationships. Or, just maybe, in seeing her getting older. The overall impression is that of a somewhat mournful acoustic memoir that, once assembled in the studio and released to the world, might be treated as the closure of a distressing chapter (“I’m from here but now live in Austin”, Rossetto’s sweet voice says at one point). An innate ability in the invisible transmittal of contrasting feelings, rather than the mere consecutiveness of audible moods, is what ultimately increases the potential of Whole Stories.

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