The terms ‘axis’ and ‘atlas’ both relate to the measurement and mapping of space, and at least some of the music on Lea Bertucci’s recent album seem to connect with these concepts. First, however, comes ‘Dragano Earworm’: fluting, fluttering sounds, a drone as conversation between birds. Hissing and crunching come and go; then a ship’s horn of a bass tone. The piece is alive with momentum and momentousness, revelling in and of the moment.
Title piece ‘Axis / Atlas’ begins with a grainy sigh, running from left to right channels, like waves breaking on a sandy beach. Static, low feedback, ringing. A radio searches for a broadcast, struggling. Later on, glassy tones echo like bats’ sonar scanning the empty spaces of underground caverns, while pitches rise and fall like slow alarm sirens. A low oscillating hum and chimes from an ancient bell open final track ‘Cepheid’, followed by swirling, distorted sounds on the cusp of recognisability (people? machinery?). Tense quivering and ringing; irregular tapping on metal. More metallic pitches screeching as they rise, until the whole thing collapses in a huge, distorted clatter of noise.
So what’s the link between this music and the themes of geometry and mapping? For me, it’s the ways in which the latter two pieces in particular plot an affective geography, suggesting spaces and horizons by means of echoes, signals, and static. The indeterminacy and sometimes outright distortion point to an interior space of emotion and memory, rather than the particular concreteness of exterior locations. At the same time, the sounds are often weighty and dense, contrasting with the giddy lightness of the first piece. If anything, I feel the music sometimes treads water in the same idea for a little too long; yet its power to build a world, often with metal and hammer, is rarely less than utterly convincing. Fine work.