Review of August [12k1044]

Signal To Noise (US)

Giuseppe Ielasi and Oren Ambarchi have a lot in common. Both men are primarily associated with the guitar, but are actually multi-instrumentalists; both refuse to be confined to one side of the improviser/composer fence; and both have great facility with conventionally beautiful sounds, yet embrace noise when the fancy strikes them. Now the pair have turned in a couple of more than worthy new albums.

August is Ielasi’s fourth solo album, and it’s several strides ahead of its self-titled predecessor from the previous year. While it is divided into five untitled tracks and is the result of eight months of mostly solitary work, it feels more like a single continuous performance. The opening gambit, a loop that wouldn’t sound out of place on an early Seefeel record, is also deceptive; things don’t stay so simple for long. In short order tiny metallic tones and soft, sandy implosions pan across the spectrum, creating the aural illusion of precipitation, and then more loops — a strummed double bass, a couple drum beats — poke up like time-lapse videos of plant growth. By the time you get to the sixth minute a meandering piano, skittering electronics, and some resonant guitar swells seem to be playing in three corners of a large field; the listener occupies the fourth. Rather than continue with the note-by-note, let’s just say that Ielasi never drops the compositional ball or settles for mere prettiness. His disparate sounds advance as inexorably as a stream coursing through a valley and use their loveliness as lure the listener into considering some unusual juxtapositions; they climax in the fifth track with a prayerful mix of ascending organ figures, shadowy echoes, and shortwave static.

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