By Maurizio Abate & Alberto Boccardi
Alberto Boccardi likes to step outside of his comfort zone to explore uncharted waters. From his guitar and electronic manipulations on his self-titled debut EP (Fratto9, 2012), he ventured into full choir mode with the San Lupo live project, (reworked as a split album with Lawrence English – Fratto9, 2013), before landing into minimal orchestral territory with Fingers (Important / Catsun, 2014).
Boccardi’s appetite for collaborations has now paired him once again with finger picking maestro Maurizio Abate. The pair has contributed to each other’s album in the past but this is their first proper duo release. When not indulging his passion for blues guitar (Loneliness, Desire and Revenge, Black Sweat Records, 2015) Abate, himself no stranger to collaborative projects (Neokarma Jooklo Trio, Eternal Zio and Arbre Du Ténéré, amongst others), has a penchant for meditative dronescapes infused of a healthy dose of psychedelia, as outlined in A Way To Nowhere (Boring Machines / Black Sweat Records, 2014).
Superficie (Surface), though, takes both artists into a different direction altogether. The title is indicative of the overall mood of the album. What is important here is what is left unspoken, what lies beyond the apparent smooth exterior with its luminous sheen.
The album proceeds by subtraction, reduced to its core, the distilled sound stands bare and open to scrutiny. The formal simplicity, however, only acts as a veneer to the dichotomy at play throughout the album.
On the one hand, Maurizio Abate’s electric guitar morphs into mutterings and rumbles, whereas Boccardi’s chiselled analog sonic features and percussive rhythms reveal sharp contours. Naked and masked at the same time, the sound meanders surreptitiously looking for an escape route but is constantly reined in and brought back in line.
Tightly framed, the sonic shapes that emerge might not be complying with geometry formulas but they do obey to carefully choreographed aural gestures. The thinly veiled asymmetry in evidence is quickly resolved and the tracks durations, all between two and five minutes long (with the exception of Fracture Part 2), ensure that what are, in effect, detailed snapshots of deceptively barren landscapes, never unfold into sweeping vistas.
The only time the undercurrents seems to raise to the surface and filter through is on Corner, Passages and All Your Lines, where the crackling texture reveals the presence of fissures. For a brief moment the simmering undercurrents look ready to overflow but the sonic stream is swiftly diverted and all aural residue is quickly absorbed. Not all is whispered though, and whipping sounds come in to regulate the safe passage of muted tones.
For all its austere intentions, there is depth and volume in Superficie making this a rewarding journey.
Superficie is out on vinyl via Alt.Vinyl