MASSIMO MENOTTI – Minimalist Guitar Music

Orange Mountain Music

Italian axeman Massimo Menotti is a thoroughly obscure figure for this reviewer. Indeed, there seems to be no abundance of information about him on the web. But, sure enough, the zealots of historic minimalism will perk up the ears to the sheer mention of these titles: “Music In Similar Motion”, “Two Pages”, “Piano Phase”. This, to my knowledge, is the first guitarist tackling these fundamental pieces; let me tell you, he did a laudable job.

Of course the method utilized was the superimposition of the parts, recorded one by one. In Reich’s “Piano Phase” (the other two compositions are by Philip Glass, in case of ongoing unawareness) Menotti achieves results that, talking of mere hypnotic consequences, almost equal the original. The geometric-yet-fluid periodicity of the minimalist masterpieces from the late sixties/early seventies remains unique in the history of the genre. These were out-and-out acoustic mandalas defined by constantly shifting metres, capable of generating inner visions like nothing else can do during a listening act (take this from someone who entered a new realm of his youthful consciousness within the modulation from the first to the second part of Glass’ Music With Changing Parts). Every small cell is subjected to an imaginary process of homomorphosis, as the regeneration of previous segments produces a purificating aura of illusory designs and contrapuntal phenomena describable as “harmonic” in the most profound acceptation. I don’t know if techniques of editing, cut-and-paste or looping were applied, however – as Fox Mulder and Dana Scully would have it – I want to believe. On a strictly auditory level, Menotti’s crystalline picking and ferocious concentration put him on the same wavelength of, say, Robert Fripp (Discipline era).

To be completely honest, I much prefer the clean homogeneity of Minimalist Guitar Music to the overly celebrated versions – by Pat Metheny and Jonny Greenwood – of Reich’s “Electric Counterpoint”, perhaps the only work comparable (very remotely) to what we heard in this album. But that’s high-ceilinged sonic bourgeoisie – exactly as Glass’ output from the last thirty years – whereas we still sniffed the “good old times” scents here.

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