Black Truffle

The chronicles of today’s alternative sounds feature selected “regulars” besides the very musicians. They usually operate in the engineering and/or mastering departments; just to recall a couple, think to Christoph Amann and Rashad Becker. You get used to reading the names without properly acknowledging how important the contribution of these gentlemen is to albums we greatly enjoy. Their studio skills are of fundamental importance, but the kudos they receive for that are not sufficient.

Joe Talia happens to be such a person and, in this particular case, a competent drummer; that was my idea of him before realizing that he is also a superb, and I mean superb composer. Here goes a trademark mea culpa for not having been able to deepen what Talia has created in the last twelve years; this includes his solo debut In/Exterior, released in 2006 on Holding Pattern. I do remember the collaborations with Oren Ambarchi, John Duncan, Jim O’Rourke and Richard Pinhas, yet Tint really took me by surprise.

To summarize (rather ineffectively) the context in which this music moves, bear in mind that a skilled manipulation of certain frequencies in a concatenation of sonic events is often the reason behind a success. Talia looks to strike a balance between non-figurative and concrete, apparently subjecting a few primary colors/sources to a radical equalization prior to altering the essence of the whole. In fact, there’s always a chance for the listener to retain bits and pieces of the original homespun/field recordings inside a regulated turbulence. The sonorities range from spectacular underground tremors to bizarre high-pitched anti-melodies. Those extremes comprise a small universe of unusual reverberations and fluid percussiveness seemingly generated by a fluorescent magma. Adjectives that could be thrown – admittedly shopworn – are “haunting”, “desolate”, “breathtaking”, “organic”. Still, a good chunk of what you’ll hear is permeated by a drifting sweetness.

Hypothesizing a labeling of this gem through the enforced bastardizing of a “genre” would be ridiculous. What can be sworn to the (nonexistent) gods is that it’s beautiful, overarching and profound in terms of one’s awareness of the everchanging textural narrative. And I’m willing to bet that, far from any direct comparison, it will be cherished by the lone wolves who perk the ears up at the call of “Andrew Chalk” and “Christoph Heemann”; the overall spirit is akin to some of those two’s creations. That said, Talia’s needlework of acoustic mirages is highly individual and never ceases to amaze, not even after twenty-plus spins.

Trust your rapidly aging Virgil: this is a veritable “can’t miss”. Now, let me go back to the drawing board and belatedly study what preceded it.

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