Review of Aix [12k1051]

Textura (.ORG)

Giuseppe Ielasi’s Aix (the title alluding to its Aix-En-Provence recording locale) weighs in at a mere thirty-one minutes yet the Milan-based producer still manages to pack a wealth of sound into its nine untitled pieces. And not just the usual instrument sounds one might expect, such as guitar, bass, and piano, but an idiosyncratic array of micro-samples, unusual percussive noises, and synthetic textures. The tracks are typically grounded with irregular, lurching pulses and then augmented with a rich variety of sound fragments that Ielasi carefully weaves into ultra-detailed settings. There’s both a structured quality to the music in its reliance on rhythmic grids—often jazz-like in feel despite their constructed character—and a loose feel in the mutating flow of sonic accents that scatter over the base elements, a contrast mirrored in the beautiful cover photo where a building under construction reveals a similar marriage of repeating structural form and unpredictable colour distribution. Just as the building reveals both an intricate level of detail and spaciousness in its unfinished form, so too does Aix balance sonic density and space in arrangements that teem with the incessant march of sounds and yet avoid feeling cluttered.

Sonic details prove arresting in almost every piece: poured water sounds and creaking noises accompany the skeletal rhythmic lull in “01”; repeating piano sprinkles intensify the jazzy feel of “06”; angelic harp strums and muted horns appear amidst a heaving assemblage of knocks, snaps, and pitter-patter in “08”; and overlapping acoustic bass motifs and see-sawing organ tones combine for a somber exeunt in “09.” Ielasi augments the tick-tock base in “02” with the bright ping of a single piano note, a zipper, sci-fi whorl, and other micro-sounds, all of them taking their respective places within the grid-like rhythm design. The downtempo lurch of “03” gives it an almost spectral character, its subtly swinging rhythm suggesting it would be a natural soundtrack to a detective drama’s opening credit sequence. The burbling bass pulse and dense, almost dub-like mix Ielasi deploys in “05” even calls to mind the style of Vladislav Delay’s Entain and Multila. A prototypical “headphones” recording, Aix’s wealth of detail and activity offers a richly rewarding experience to the discerning listener.

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