“Segmenti” in 5against4

In some respects, Giulio Aldinucci & Francis M. Gri‘s new five-part collaboration Segmenti explores a parallel soundworld. Again, there’s a meditative depth of space (no short durations this time), though the emphasis here is on pitched rather than noise-based materials. Partly for this reason Segmenti approaches closer to the world of ambient music, Aldinucci and Gri creating beautiful large-form swatches of gossamer. There’s an interesting contrasting sense of perspective displayed in these pieces. ‘Anchor’ behaves in an aloof way, its droney texture, moving from a lower to a higher registral emphasis, is ostensibly light but sufficiently dense that it’s hard to know where or on what to focus. However, this is no bad thing, inviting a rapt listening focus that’s able to move freely through its wealth of details. Dronal elements recur elsewhere; in ‘Divisi’ the duo creates a fixed pitch centre that sounds distinctly sun-kissed, motes and particles of sound swirling around it, and which is twice subjected to impressive swells from within. It ultimately reduces to a cycling, drifting mass, very slowly subsiding in a transfixed process of slow dissolution. If noise features anywhere, it’s in the third track, ‘Magma’, where heavily reverbed piano notes are approached by a gritty cloud texture that coalesces around them. Gradually this becomes encrusted with content such that individual details becomes secondary to the by now seething accumulated mass. Though clearly much too intense to be described as peaceful, it nonetheless retains an idyllic quality due to never really becoming abrasive.

In their own way, each of these five pieces undergoes a unique form of slow-burn, and this is especially clear in the opening two pieces. ‘Remnants’, like ‘Anchor’, is initially vague and distant, though over time clarifies to form an exquisitely pretty sound object seemingly slowly turning in space. Around two-thirds of the way through, Gri and Aldinucci push it forward, revealing a number of texturally differentiated strata. ‘Faglie’ is arguably the album’s high point, a 14-minute shape-shifter that moves at an almost glacial pace, initially placing the gentlest of emphases on small harmonic shifts (including an ostensible, deeply buried perfect cadence). It sounds as though a melody is going to materialise, but instead, having bobbed around in the middleground for a time, the piece opens out into a warm ambient field with glimpses of a female voice singing somewhere deep within. Even more so than in ‘Divisi’, the music becomes entranced, entering a state of ecstasy, simultaneously delicate yet seemingly continuing to strengthen while it remains essentially static. Considering this is Aldinucci and Gri’s first collaboration, Segmenti is a magnificent achievement. It’s released on Gri’s own label Krysalisound, available on CD and digital from their Bandcamp site.

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