The opening three releases from Weighter Recordings are similar enough to invite comparisons, yet distinct enough for each to stand on its own merits. All three — label boss Nick Hennies’ “Duets for Solo Snare Drum”, Tim Feeney’s “Caroline”, and now Enrico Malatesta’s “Benandare” — feature solo percussion played with an ear to timbre and texture, arising as co-emergent with what still may be called rhythm; all three downplay macro-level structural development in order to allow a wealth of micro-details to emerge. The question here is not where the music takes you, but how it presents what is already there.
“Benandare” (the term is recognised by neither Google nor Wikipedia) is perhaps the most evocative release of the trio. The first two tracks strongly resemble the billowing of wind, such that were they labelled as field recordings of desolate, windswept nowheres I would have heard no reason to suspect otherwise. It is only in the third and final track, where the oscillations become a more regular and forceful, that the action of a human hand, perhaps dragging or scraping an object over a skin drum, becomes discernible — a horizontal rather than vertical (striking) movement. Faint resonances evoke a simple synth drone. That all three tracks are titled “Immersion-Artifice” is perhaps more descriptive than one would have thought: each offers an immersion in an elemental sound world, which is gradually and subtly revealed to be the product of human theatre, which itself is the result of objects interacting physically with each other, and so on. Solo percussion as dialectics, as the hyphen in the track title suggests.
Another fascinating release, then, with the Weighter trilogy adding up to quite a feast of innovative, conceptually and aesthetically astute solo percussion. Malatesta’s previous CD release was a collaboration with Giuseppe Ielasi, and he also performs with the likes of Luciano Maggiore, Renato Rinaldi, Burkhard Beins, Christian Wolfarth, and many others — here’s hoping that further documents of his solo and collaborative work become available soon.