Review of Solo Andata [12k1056]

The Silent Ballet (US)

Solo Andata is Italian for ‘one way’. Apparently, this is a pertinent fact, otherwise you wouldn’t be seeing it on every possible press release or critical writing piece that divulges the skinny on this humble but curious Australian duo. Living on opposite ends of the country, Perth-based Paul Fiocco and Melbourne-based Kane Ikin have spent the greater period of 2007 through 2009 gathering the sonic remnants that now find themselves refined, assembled, and packaged as Solo Andata, their second LP. Three years after releasing their debut, Fyris Swan, through Chicago’s Hefty Records, Fiocco and Ikin now quietly transition to the deadening minimalist 12k family—a transition that makes itself felt on the substance of this self-titled record.

While still bearing similar subdued sensibilities in the execution of their pieces from Fyris Swan, Solo Andata exhibits a more sullen and heartbroken side. The duo experiment with lengthier breaks of organic minimalist textural composition, shedding flagrant indicators of form and only sparingly utilising instrumental timbre. The result sees the duo capably revelling in the paradigm of field-recorded sound artistry that has hints of Tim Hecker, Christopher Willits, and 12k labelmate Steinbrüchel.

Working in lengthy brackets of around seven minutes apiece and venturing ambitiously to thirteen minutes on the closer, Fiocco and Ikin manipulate and float their processed samples with enough warmth and artistic intrigue to give the individual pieces the sustenance needed to last their relatively lengthy life-spans. Seamlessly caressing one layer on another, the patience gives the atmosphere licence to gradually absorb every last bit of glowing resonance. “Ablation” combines a soft, motorised chant that calls out to a delicate melancholic string lullaby for aid, while “Beyond this Window” melts in distortion and dissolves every last sonic molecule into static with an almost Badalamenti-stylised melodic eeriness. “In the Light Storming” moulds sinusoidal echoes, tones and brief spurts of simulated tinnitus to radiate a comforting, emotional sense of being.

The diluted instrumental presence never disrupts the main textural work of a droning wash of white-noise-driven atmospherics, so much as placates it. “Loom” is perhaps the one exception, featuring an acoustic guitar/string duet in what is easily the most forefronted role for any instruments on the album. The instrumental intervention is subtle, such as on “Look for Me Here” where it paints the space with a gentle harmonic whisper that is embellished by the notes of a guitar, cusped together with the whirring of a sawing motor in a dance so slow that it still ultimately renders the piece formless.

“Woods Bones Flesh” is a dark, foreboding exit to the record, finding a culmination for the thematic disorientation and solitude that dominates the record. Through a subtle yet meticulous orchestration of field recordings against a backdrop of eerie drone, Fiocco and Ikin almost completely reconcile their stylistic inclinations with the ambitions of their new home in 12k. Without fail, Solo Andata achieves on this record what any great ambient album should: the ability to be completely incandescent. And even as it freely self-sustains a glow and warmth, it is also manages to be, in an ever so understated fashion, devastatingly cinematic. -Mac Nguyen

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