Andrea Belfi & Mathias Heiderich – Alveare

Alveare is the second release from the IIKKI imprint and continues to bring together the worlds of photography and music for this latest edition. Specifically, Alveare brings together the music of Italian composer Andrea Belfi and the Berlin-based photographer Matthias Heiderich. Belfi has long specialized in an avant-garde approach to electronic music that has a particular almost cinematic bent, so bringing a visual storyteller into the mix is very apropos. Heiderich’s highly urbanized architectural subjects serve as a perfect companion piece. Taken hand-in-hand, Heiderich’s work captures Italian architecture in all its angular forms and amplifies the angularity of Belfi’s music.

IIKKI 002, with its nary-a-human-to-be-found photographs, serves as a stark counterpoint to IIKKI 001, which featured images of humans on virtually every page. And the tone of the narratives is very distinct as well: The Clay+De Blauwer release was haunted by memory and felt almost painfully human – It seemed to demand its audience emotionally connect with every absent face and tape looped melody to forge a connection or shared memory between audience and subject. Heiderich + Belfi’s collaboration works as a stark counterpoint: it is cold and almost lacking in overt humanity. However, on closer inspection Alveare seems to be about the blending of history + modernity in ways that showcase how man’s embrace of artifice, via architecture and mechanized music, is at once inviting and simultaneously dangerously unknowable.

Together, Belfi and Heiderich are able to frame each other’s work in a way that makes it take on a whole new meaning. Belfi’s music has always sounded forward thinking and bold, but paired off with Heiderich’s photos, his music has never sounded so deliberately urban and cool. And never has it sounded so futuristic – Belfi feels like a voice from the future sent back to provide a cautious invitation. There’s something inviting and cool about both the music and visuals but there’s something equally cold and inaccessible, as if the humanity of each artist’s creation is being subsumed by the very spaces and sounds each artist uses as its subject.

There’s an almost curious link between what’s on display with this collaboration that recalls cinema movement of the 1960s and 1970s known as Giallo: a primarily Italian genre of films that celebrated modernity and its post-war excesses with cool, swinging characters who seemed to inhabit a parallel version of Italy that strained against its own past so as to write its future as the very definition of post-modern cool. Even the influence of Ennio Morricone- one of 1970s Italy’s defining cinematic musical voices – can be heard on Belfi’s “ Grigio” with its almost spaghetti Western clippity-clop horse galloping rhythm.

And Giallo is a good frame of reference for the work overall. But what differentiates this collaboration from that moment in time is that this work seems to be a tome to a lost version of some future. Unlike the extravagant veneer of Giallo, there is no Franco Nero or Edwige Fenech in this Italy, instead its completely deserted and Heiderich’s photography invites the viewer to wonder whether everyone has been and gone or if they just never arrived in the first place. In equal measure, Belfi’s music is more alien than human in this context with his blend of live drums and electronic modulated sounds – it’s as if Belfi is capturing the tension of man trying to control the machine but being forced to try to chase his own creation to find some synthesis.

Overall, IIKKI 002 is a very different artifact from IIKKI 001 and that’s a good thing. But what links the two is that both are able to transport the audience to a world of their own creation and create an immersive experience. To commit to a venture such as IIKKI – one that demands so much of its audience’s willingness to really tuck into the works – you have to be willing to take said audience to strange and new places with each outing. What’s remarkable is how quickly the label was willing to take such a stark detour. It’s a welcome move that portends good things for the longevity of the label.

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