Andrea Belfi

Andrea Belfi - Natura Morta, artist with moustache and blue shirt looking straight at camera, plain background

Natura Morta

Andrea Belfi’s previous solo album “Wege” felt like quite a conceptually-driven affair, playing with the listener’s perceptions of time and timing in a rigorous way that was also great fun. His new release “Natura Morta” is more subdued, perhaps even sombre at times, though his highly skilled percussion playing remains as exuberant as it is finely controlled. Though Belfi helps himself to the rhythm-led structures and repetitive one-note hooks and pulses that characterise a variety of beat-driven electronic genres, it’s his live drums that provide both the energy and the weight of the music, lending a much greater suppleness and flexibility to the sound. There’s more flesh and gristle on these bones than their mutant techno genes would suggest.

The album opens in gloomy, sedate fashion, drifting through eerie cymbal washes before a rapid shuffle quietly kicks things into gear. Muted rolls and rhythms, augmented by plodding kicks and bass, creates a sense of huge mass moving in slow motion — like a time lapse of a motorway at night, in which thousands of little darting headlights only emphasise the vastness of the whole. Though the drums are placed front and centre — fourth track “Forme Creano Oggetti” is essentially a solo kit piece, and the rest of the album is almost as selective in its orchestration — the album nonetheless avoids both rigid demands for conformity of the four-to-the-floor variety and the kind of floodlit skin-bashing workouts that populate the classic rock live catalogue. Instead, restraint gives way to restlessness, twitching limbs, bumps in the night. Not so much natura morta as natura unmorta.

All of this energy corked up in the smallest of bottles makes for a very compelling listen, in which one could just as easily drift with the storm clouds as scuffle in the dirt. The past year or so has seen an increasing blurring of the boundaries between ambient and experimental music on the one hand, and more conventional beat-driven genres such as techno on the other; trust Belfi to come up with one of the most infectious and engaging manifestations of this trend thus far. (Andrea Belfi)

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