Following on from the rapturously-received Postcards From Italy concert at Café Oto the previous evening, several musicians associated with the project presented their solo and duo work at Power Lunches just down the road in Dalston, East London.
Though somewhat smaller and poorly ventilated, the venue boasts an excellent sound system, which helped bring out the nuances of the complex and dynamic music that was thrown at it. All of the performers had contributed to the Postcards From Italy installation currently on view at London’s Soundfjord gallery until 21st July, but for this concert they were each drawing on their own material.
The evening began with Fabio Perletta, who turned off the lights for an immersive performance of precise, finely-grained sounds. In keeping with the aesthetic of Farmacia901, the label he curates, Perletta’s set mostly hovered around the extremes of the audible frequency range, from high-pitched hisses to deep, subby bass, relying on very subtle transitions to provoke an intense listening experience. Just when things were starting to feel a little dry, he brought in a warm synth pad that filled the darkness surrounding us in that little cellar room, clinging to us like dew. The quiet nuance of his music sat a little uncomfortably in the seatless venue, particularly as the door blocking the light and music from upstairs kept squeaking open as latecomers arrived, but given the constraints it was a strong performance.
Ennio Mazzon responded to the difficulties encountered by his countryman by cranking up the volume and intensity. The flood of rapidly-changing digital noise that came pouring out of the speakers presented a semblance of chaos; however, the snatches of structure and pattern made momentarily hearable revealed this chaotic aesthetic impression to be a product of an emerging complexity in which everything that happens does so for a reason. Listening to Mazzon’s music is like those uncanny, vertigo-inducing moments when a window opens up through which the world can be seen as a huge and vastly complex network of interacting objects (and when I say ‘like’, perhaps I mean, ‘it is the same’). His recent album ‘Xuan’ is one of my favourite releases of the year so far, and at Power Lunches he smartly used the constraints of the venue to his advantage to make his music even more overwhelming and yet structurally cohesive than it is on record.
The final set came courtesy of Gridshape, the duo of Franz Rosati on laptop and Francesco Saguto on guitar. The signal from Saguto’s instrument was taken and manipulated in real time by Rosati, producing sounds which were then responded to by Saguto in an ongoing cycle of improvised collaboration. This set produced the evening’s greatest contrasts in volume, oscillating between full-on distorted rock-out to gentle, delicate moments; at one point the noise subsided to reveal the quiet splish-splash of digital raindrops hitting concrete, my favourite single sound of the evening (though the hot and bone-dry atmosphere of the cellar room may have had something to do with this). It was interesting too that this music was audibly the collaboration between a guitarist and a laptop musician, rather than resembling the swaths of ‘guitar-generated’ ambient and noise music in which the sense of performing on an instrument has been lost completely; one could hear the back-and-forth between the two musicians and how their actions influenced and were influenced by the actions of their collaborator.
A fine night of music, then, and as with the Oto gig it was a treat for UK audiences to hear some great Italian musicians.
Thanks to Gianmarco Delre for organising!