Sound and multimedia artist Fabio Perletta creates sparse, highly reduced and refined ambient music, often deploying the barest minimum of sonic means to explore the intersection between physics, psychology and perception. He occupies similar stylistic territory as Richard Chartier and Yann Novak, artists who have also appeared on the Farmacia901 label he curates. His new release “Interstitial Spaces” starts off with tiny drip-drops of high-frequency acoustic rain, which eventually gather to form a fine, misty drizzle of the sort familiar to inhabitants of Europe’s northern regions. Later on the lush pads typically associated with ambient electronica make a very gentle, low-key appearance, while the high-frequency flutter takes on a more avian chirruping character.
In a sense, the album could be understood as drawing from the modernist canon of superlatives (‘fastest’, ‘strongest’, ‘smallest’, etc.), with ‘faintest’ and ‘quietest’ being the anchoring ideas. Depending on the perspective from which one listens, this can be heard either as an affirmation of a self who judges these qualities and in reference to whom such judgements are made, or as the dissolution of that same self at the threshold of perception, the true substance of the music being withheld for some other. Personally I would rather set such issues aside and think instead about the picture the music offers of the world: sometimes familiar and intelligible, often not, full of energies and movements at different scales, not always concerned with whether I hear or not. My perception of light drizzle differs from my perception of weather systems, but both are aesthetic, in a way.
Despite pushing towards thresholds, “Interstitial Spaces” does not dispense with dynamics, albeit ranging from piano pianissimo to piano rather than the usual mezzo-forte to fortissimo. Although the two pieces each have their own structure, obvious beginning-middle-end narratives are avoided, and I found it hard to distinguish the join between the two: again, much like the world in general. In fact, the more I listened, the more engaging I found the album to be. While some ambient works can become tiresome once the novelty of their effect wears off, in this case I found myself wanting to listen more, and this seemed as much to do with the intricacies of how the music is crafted as with the sense of something withheld beyond a liminal threshold. For such a quiet album, “Interstitial Spaces” has an awful lot to say about how to make great ambient electronic music.
* Image by Paolo Cignini