Within the vast canon of field recordings, the sounds of water probably stand as one of the most frequently abused clichés, together with birdsong, to the point that it is now difficult for them to emerge from the sinking sands of platitudes they have fallen into. This does not mean that thought provoking and original works can no longer be produced with water as their central theme. I am thinking, for instance, of Ennio Mazzon’s “Celadon” (2010), which played on the idea of decontextualization of sounds and mental images while investigating the river Piave in northern Italy.
However, for a Venetian like Enrico Coniglio, water is strictly interwoven into the fabric of his daily life and naturally ends up serving as a source of inspiration in much of his output, particularly in his early works. The two 10” vinyl recently released in a limited collector’s edition on Stefano Gentile’s Silentes label, “Astrùra” and “Solèra”, are named after the Venetian for two seabeds, and are composed from field recordings collected at the mouth of the harbor during a foggy spring day back in the 2009, on the northern edge of the lagoon. Both works are closely related to “Sabbion”, released by Green Field Recordings in 2010, and were produced within a similar context using binaural and hydrophonic microphones that captured, amongst others, the sounds of the propeller of a small boat approaching the island of St. Erasmo and a semi-submerged pipeline on the shore.
From the outset, Enrico Coniglio makes it apparent, that neither album aims to be an prettified rendering of a pristine aural world. As his work on the label Galaverna, which he co-runs with Leandro Pisano, testifies, Coniglio, is not interested in nostalgia and is not prepared to erase human presence in order to offer an idyllic, but inevitably fake, sonic image from yesteryear. There is as much artifice as there is nature in this diptych, labeled as the Bragos series, with an equal ratio of ebb and flow from the lagoon and mechanical sounds from boat engines and various other sonic products of manmade intervention. Notwithstanding the melodic undercurrent that runs through both works, Coniglio is not afraid of injecting occasional abrasive sonic elements into the proceedings uncovering the fragility of an aural world trapped in a liminal state.
Photo by Scafando