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Album Review

As an improvising guitarist, Giuseppe Ielasi's nearest antecedents are electro-acoustic wranglers like Dean Roberts and Loren MazzaCane Connors, lateral thinkers who while embracing the instrument's indeterminate qualities — from pickup noise to amplifier buzz and other sonic anomalies — take particular care in constructing coherent musical structures from them. Ielasi, also a composer of electronic works that stretch found sounds through a veil of subtle digital processing, is equally concerned with the creation of site-specific works that incorporate instrumental gestures and real world, concrète sources into a complex network of organized, spatialized sound. The two interests complement each other nicely on his 2009 album, Aix. All of the album's nine untitled tracks use rhythmic grids as a structuring motif for heavily randomized sound events, an idea that would appear not so far removed from the more experimental realms of techno, were it not for timbral qualities of the sounds being manipulated, and the total absence of a steady kick drum pulse. Indeed, nothing so much as a deflated 808 bass click drives anything along, the time-keeping implied instead by elliptical furrows of hand percussion cut along evenly spaced segments. The drier structuralist approach here is offset by more opulent melodic motifs and accents, as in the repeated piano figure and jew's harp of "Track 3." But the crux of Aix's post-improv, slo-mo techno appears to be an exploration of acoustic space. The sheer variety of complex instrumental textures (from percussive objects and acoustic drum sets to piano, trumpet, and guitar) set to an array of artificial and natural reverbs, echoes, and stereo imaging, and the subtlety and clarity to which they are deployed, separates this effort from similar records by legions of laptop-wielding experimentalists in the '00s. Aix is a highly recommended release for lovers of post-digital composition and adventurous minimal techno.

Customer Reviews

Headphone Commute Review

A few steps in an empty gym, an organ chord, some pouring water, and we're off... Aix is a slight departure from the Italian artist's, Giuseppe Ielasi, previous release on 12k, August. The latter is a work of restraint ambiance with electronically treated acoustic instrumentation, which was a perfect fit for Taylor Deupree's minimal label. While the former album, the one we're concerned with in this review, produced in Aix-En-Provence (a city in southern France), is a juxtaposition of found confetti of sound, glitched trite and stitched tight into rhythmical structures and repetitive patterns. Like a winter coat glued and sewn together from ripped pieces of fabric, the sporadic collection of sounds seems obscure, that is until you get closer, and you realize that it's warm and fuzzy, even if the colors don't match. The selection of tracks on this "grid" album are groovy, funky and jazzy, drawing an imagery of street performers playing on buckets, rubber bands, zippers, aerosol cans and an array of homemade percussion. In fact, this album strangely reminds me of a recent intarwebs video I saw, Music For One Apartment and Six Drummers. Yet this concotion of dusty sounds does not feel muddy or loose. In fact, it is light and bouncy, leaving plenty of room for each sound to evolve and breathe in its own sound spectrum. Ielasi becomes a master chef, walking into your abandoned kitchen and while opening a rusty refrigerator door, mumbling to himself, "Now what do we have here?" While folding the samples of micro textures and handfuls of semi-random rhythm into a boiling pot of bouncing echoes and stirred grooves, Ielasi delivers an exquisite course of contemporary musique concrète, best served warm, while the melody's still lingering... Overall, this is an interesting sidestep for Ielasi and 12k as well. Don't expect the warm Fennesz like layers and washes reminiscent of August. Enter with an open mind, and Aix will surely leave an imprint and beg you to return again. Besides releasing albums on 12k, Sedimental, and Häpna, Ielasi is also a founder of Fringes Recordings [now defunct] and a co-founder of Schoolmap Records. Be sure to pick up his one-track 30-minute masterpiece, Plans (Sedimental, 2003), as well as above mentioned August (12k, 2007).


Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Giuseppe Ielasi is a guitarist and electronic musician with a bent toward avant-garde and experimental work. The founder of the edgy Fringes record label, Ielasi also released his debut album, Gesine, on...
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Aix, Giuseppe Ielasi
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