The only notes for this release by avant-garde English label Another
Timbre state that "Atto uses various acoustic objects but no musical
instruments or electronic manipulation". In fact, there are not only
no instruments, there are no melodies, no harmonies, no real rhythms,
no perceptible structures. It is somewhat bizarre, therefore, to find
this disc categorised by the Discogs website under jazz
by at least one online jazz magazine! Its critic comes to the conclusion
that Atto "sits at the overlaps between ambient, EAI, improv and modern
composition and should find favor with devotees of any of those musics.
It is music that will stand the test of time and be richly rewarding
for years to come."
None of that could be further from the truth. For one thing, this
music by any sensible definition. Sound art, objet
work, musique concrète
: these are
all labels that might apply to varying degrees - but not music. For
another thing, only those fascinated by extreme compositional experimentalism
- John Cage at his strangest, say - are going to find rewards in Osvaldo
Coluccino's Atto. Like a true post-modernist, Coluccino will not be
bothered by this. His previous recordings (of his 'string quartets',
for example - see review
make absolutely no attempt to follow any populist route towards fame
Though no notes or indeed booklet come with the arty-looking digipak
case, Another Timbre's website does provide detailed background to
the recording in the form of an interview - albeit rather heavy-going
in places - with Coluccino here
One way to approach Atto is by way of a guess-the-object exercise:
what items is Coluccino using to make sounds with? At times he seems
to be blowing across a bottle top, rattling a saucepan lid or scrunching
some gravel, but also...re-grouting the bathroom with a chunk of polystyrene?
Are those guinea-pigs in an air-duct? Is one of Malcolm Arnold's old
industrial floor polishers being reassembled and tested? Is he frying
some bacon now?
According to Coluccino, however, answers should be hard to come by,
because "the acoustic sounds that occur are neither the result of
musical instruments, nor recognisable sounds that can be associated
with a particular object - as happens in Musique Concrète
and with field recordings. I wanted to escape completely from the
limitations imposed by the cages of our cultural habits, and to look
for independence from existing methods. For me the situation is, both
as a composer and a listener, a vivid, natural and necessary situation;
it is the bread of our time and yet classical at the same time, not
just a provocative gimmick to attract attention."
As it happens, Coluccino, rather than escaping from any cultural cages,
may arguably succeed only in locking himself into one. This is a line
of creative activity he wishes to follow up, but where can it lead?
With the five 'Acts' pretty self-similar, the overall effect of this
work in lay terms lies somewhere between 'people moving in next door'
and 'creepy film soundtrack': rustling, whooshing, scraping, fiddling,
rattling, hissing and a host of other semi-familiar, semi-exotic sounds,
mainly small with the odd clatter or rumble, consolidated into artefacts
or, perhaps, into a modern art 'installation'. For Atto is
an artwork: though there is no orthodox sense of structure or progression,
that does not mean the noises are randomly thrown together. In fact,
Coluccino has assembled his found sounds rigorously, to keep textures
translucent and preserve a sense of spatiality. In a touch worthy
of John Cage - an Another Timbre catalogue regular, by the way - background
traffic is very faintly audible in some quiet passages. Audio quality
is nonetheless excellent, as is to be expected: Coluccino recorded
and then mixed the sounds himself.
Intrepid sound-explorers can buy this disc from the label's website
or at one or two other outlets online. For the very low running time
it does not come particularly cheap, but for this kind of heterodox
aural experience 39 minutes feels about right.
Collected reviews and contact at artmusicreviews.co.uk