Review of August [12k1044]

Lost At Sea (UK)

To really conquer minimalism is to do away with anything the slightest bit extraneous. Italian producer Giuseppe Ielasi really gets to the point: rather than attempting to paint scenes with flowery songtitles or conceptual blabber, Ielasi opts for the simplistic approach – that is, producing subtle and delicate, yet soulful tones and drones that soothe the listener into submission. The fact that August appears via the acclaimed 12k imprint answers half the questions that may be posed about it. 12k rarely ventures far from the niche it has carved out for itself – freeform, minimalist electronica – and the 12k back reads like the blueprints for an entire genre, such is the label’s consistency and high standard. It’s a game that 12k plays impeccably and, needless to say, Ielasi puts in a solid performance under their flag.

Despite a history embedded in understated granular synthesis, 12k’s most recent output has seen the label embarking on a slight, yet perceptible, tangent. Keeping in mind the subtle electronics of such mainstays as Taylor Deupree and Sogar, spacious productions have come into focus more and more over the last couple of years, and Giuseppes Ielasi’s debut 12k outing does little to betray this trend. Sine waves, which so many producers have stayed true to when composing music of this ilk, are left with minor roles at best on August; Ielasi instead expands upon instrument recordings and room tones, keeping the facets of his recordings to a minimum, regardless of the impetus he manages to craft.

Track 1 fleshes out a delicate minor chord, which may have once emanated from a woodwind instrument, or maybe a guitar, it’s difficult to tell, and the song collects as a cycle of digital clunks and scrapes are hauled into view. Via a piano sequence that sounds eerily similar to Stars of the Lid’s “Down 2,” August‘s Track 2 seeps in triumphantly. In an orchestral haze, instruments bleed into one another; a dense fog where it is difficult to decipher when one stops and another begins. The track is stepped up a gear as a storm of digital distortion is added to the mix, and then the momentum begins to dissipate. The organ-centric Track 5 is one of August’s more notable moments, the composition collecting itself ever so gradually and crescendo-ing over six or seven minutes, testament to Ielasi’s proficiency as a producer.

August‘s appeal lies in its capacity to sound diverse, yet at the same time consistent. Each of the five tracks on offer is structured in much the same way, though a range of different textures and tones are explored and expanded upon, giving Ielasi an immediate leg-up on what is fast becoming a saturated pool of artists working in this field of minimalism.

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