The names Ennio Mazzon, Fabio Perletta, and Franz Rosati will be well-known to anyone following the Italian ambient electronics scene of late, both through their own musical output and through the labels they run (Ripples, Farmacia, and Nephogram, respectively). Although all three are no strangers to collaboration, their new release “Différances” on Columbian label Éter is their first work as a trio, capturing a live performance at nan in Rome. Mazzon has worked extensively with field recordings, and Rosati has been known to wield a guitar, but this album focuses entirely on processed electronic sounds, at least as far as my ears could tell.
Hums, buzzes, shudders, thuds, glitch, crackle, and patinas of noise: these are the main ingredients of “Différances”, layered on but not too thickly, each tone and timbre still clearly distinguishable. There are many pulses and clicks dotted across the seven untitled tracks, providing rhythmic propulsion without ever sounding much like a stereotypical beat — I didn’t get the sense that this is music made for dancing to. I did, however, get the feeling it is intended to be played LOUD, preferably with a kilowatt sub-woofer. Though enjoyable enough in a home listening situation, the towers and plateaus of noise often seemed to strain for more volume, more energy to work with (which is unsurprising given that it is a live recording). Rarely did warm soothing chords appear, but when they did the transition wasn’t jarring — noise and tone, pattern and glitch were well-integrated and somehow intuitively musical (whatever that means), regardless of how jagged or smooth the timbre.
In fact, I found those thudding rhythms often had the same effect as ambient chords, in the sense of being absorbed in the moment rather than being relentlessly driven on to the next hook or climax. Loud and heavy can sometimes be just as meditative and transportive as quiet and expansive, as the Italian trio here prove. The seven tracks seem quite similar in approach, without a great deal of variety, but this didn’t stop me from enjoying this music more and more through several playbacks. If you’re on the lookout for well-crafted, engaging new electronic music, this album comes highly recommended.