Review of Tools [12k2018]

The Wire (UK)

In Elia Suleiman’s recent film The Time That Remains, much of the pleasure and comedy arose from the director’s precise placing of each element within his frame, whether it’s a young Palestinian yakking into a phone in front of a menacing Israeli tank, or Suleiman’s mother turning away from a celebratory firework display. I have a strong sense that Giuseppe Ielasi is ‘composing’ in the same sense on his latest release. On the face of it, this is a modest album, seven tracks spanning 20 minutes in all. Each track is titled for the source of its sounds: “Cooking Pan”, “Rubber Band” and so on. The metallic rings and boings of “Cooking Pan” are decidedly pan-like, but what seems at first a cute gag coalesces into a rigorous composition in stereo space, helped by great reverbs and all-round crisp production.

“Rubber Band” is a bouncy castle of notes leaping side to side, but Ielasi’s tracks become progressively less literal. “Metal Rod” is a flickering waterfall of tiny details, almost like one of Farben’s MicroHouse pieces. By the concluding “Paper Lamp”, Ielasi is echoing rhythms off all the walls with wit and vigour, but we are still in touch with the honourable concrète tradition of found sounds. I’m reminded of the young Eliane Radigue, coaxing every possible sound out a glass lampshade as part of her composition studies.

Known for running the Fringes and Schoolmap labels, Ielasi was formerly an improvising guitarist. A couple of years ago he reinvented turntablism with his Stunt and (Another) Stunt 12″s, dropping his stylus on Improv records to create an unstable, beatless version of what Four Tet was doing. Those strange sonic mosaics have now evolved into Tools, a play on ‘DJ tools’ records that collect beats for DJs. An elegant chunk of summertime experimentalism. – Clive Bell

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